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There is a move by the government to convert many coal fired plants to LNG. Experts and policymakers at a recent webinar opined that we have spent too little time in planning for contingencies on how to handle coal-import infrastructure. A sudden switch from coal to LNG would make us wholly dependent on import and mono-fuel. The problems associated with the import dependence carry high risk since price volatility will make it impossible to make energy affordable and deliveries uncertain. While some experts believe coal will remain a mainstay for the next century, the setting up of coal mines should be at Phulbari and Barapukuria. Local people’s concerns can be mitigated by having competitive compensation packages and technology is now available to mitigate water-related issues and environmental concerns. Most attention was put on building coal plants and not enough on logistics about how to transport the imported coal. The discussion over last five years has been focused on import of coal while ignoring challenge of transport that involves sustained and expensive dredging. It is time to rethink exploration of own coal for both affordability and energy-independence.

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