With installation of the reactor pressure vessel at the Rooppur Nuclear Power Project, Bangladesh has entered the nuclear era, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday.
"We will join the world's nuclear powers, but for peace," the prime minister said, adding, "This will ensure power generation, which will reach the rural people and elevate their socio-economic condition."
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the installation work of the first nuclear reactor pressure vessel (RPV) at the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) via videoconferencing from her official Ganabhaban residence in the capital yesterday morning.
The prime minister said, "Today is a very important day for us. The day is not only important for Bangladesh but is also for me."
Bangladesh is now the 33rd country to have a nuclear reactor for producing electricity from nuclear energy.
Sheikh Hasina also said the government had decided to set up another nuclear power plant on completion of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project and was looking for a suitable place in the southern region to build another nuclear power plant to meet the country's growing demand for power.
"We are looking for a place in the Southern region… it is difficult to find hard soil there but we are surveying various islands and different places to find a suitable one," she said.
"We will do that if we get a suitable place. My choice is to do that on the other side of the River Padma…that means the southern region of the country."
She said that development of the nuclear power industry will not only resolve the problem of energy supply in Bangladesh but will also contribute to the development of the region and enhance the living standards of the people.
With installation of the reactor in the first unit of the nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna, the country's dream to produce nuclear energy is going to be materialised.
Installation of almost all types of nuclear equipment was completed by setting up reactor pressure vessels inside the physical structure of Unit-1.
As a result, the work inside the reactor building of this unit nears completion.
Before the prime minister's speech, Dr Mohammad Shawkat Akbar, the RNPP project director, sought permission from the prime minister for the installation of the reactor pressure vessel.
Rooppur NPP has accumulated the best Russian practice and dozens of years of experience and scientific thoughts and the unique combination of active and passive systems of the power units will ensure safe operation of the power plant and guarantee the planned level of electricity generation.
Science and Technology Minister Architect Yeafesh Osman presided over the function and Russia's state-run atomic energy body Rosatom's Director General Alexey Likhachev spoke as the special guest from the RNPP Project site.
Science and Technology Secretary Ziaul Hasan delivered the welcome address while Project Director Shawkat Akbar was connected from the reactor building.
The nuclear power plant in Pabna that consists of two units with a capacity of 1,200MW each is the country's maiden power project of its kind.
The Rooppur project is being implemented by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, which is being constructed with the technical and financial support of Russia.
The government is expected to start commercial operation of the plant in 2024 after a pre-commissioning in late 2023.
Bangladesh is implementing the Rooppur NPP at an estimated cost of Tk1.13 lakh crore. The work on unit-1 started in November 2017.