Road from village to city – Ishwardi riding on success of Rooppur Nuclear Plant

Ishwardi in Pabna district of Bangladesh is not a village anymore. The frantic pace of construction at the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant Project has impacted the lives of its denizens and has transformed the village into sub-urban area within a short span of time.

The ‘radical transformation’ of Ishwardi, as the experts have been calling it, can be perceived in all fields – economic, social and infrastructure. The mofussil village of earlier times now remains awake throughout the day and night as the construction work for Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant continues relentlessly. Besides the construction workers, the small village is brimming with scientists and specialists both from Bangladesh and abroad.

“The construction has just started causing a radical transformation of the area. The communication system of the area has been upgraded. The project has created many job opportunities not only for the local inhabitants, but also for the people from other parts of the country,” Chairman of the Nuclear Engineering department of the Dhaka University Shafiqul Islam told Nuclear Asia.

The main project sprawls in an area of 1.5 thousand acres. Massive machinery are deployed at the construction site, which is visible from a distance. The first stage of the construction has been completed. Many 20-storey buildings are being constructed near the project area and Russian experts have moved into the residential buildings.

The escalated economic activities in the area have upgraded the living standard of the local people. Some have even started small and medium scale business. The observers feel the RNPP has started to have a positive impact on the socioeconomic conditions of the region.

“You will see a lot of cycles around the areas, which will give you an idea on how many people have found their livelihood for this project,” Chief Engineer of the Ishwardi upazilla Md. Enamul Kabir said. He, however, added that large and heavy trucks carrying goods for the project have been causing damage to the regular roads and contended that these carriers should stick to the designated roads.

The Project Director of the RNPP project and Managing Director of Nuclear Power Company of Bangladesh Dr. Mohammad Shaukat Akbar said that the project development is on schedule and it has completed its first stage of construction already. Laboratory and workshops are being built besides the core construction. Around one thousand people, including locals and Russians, are currently working at the project site.

The former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission M Ali Zulkarnain also sounded optimistic regarding the economic impact of the RNPP project. “A big project like RNPP is likely to change the fortune of the countrymen. Many of the large enterprises and the companies of the country are involved in the development of this project while it has also created job opportunities for individuals and opportunities for small businesses as well,” Zulkarnain said. “You might not recognize the area after 10 years from now on which will be caused by the current transformation,” he added.

Science secretary Anwar Hossain also contended that “directly and indirectly” the project has been creating lot of job opportunities for the local inhabitants.