DHAKA, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction work of the country's first nuclear power plant Wednesday.
The Bangladeshi government has already approved a 265 million U. S. dollars tender for the plant's design and a Russian firm won the bid.
Officials say construction of the plant's core structure will start after design finalization.
"We've asked Russia to attach utmost priority to safety issue," Hasina said after laying the foundation stone of the first phase of work for the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in the country's Pabna district, some 216 km west of Dhaka.
Sergey Kirienko, director general of State Atomic Energy Corporation "ROSATOMS" of Russia, among others, was present at the inauguration ceremony.
Regarding the design of the plant, Hasina said Bangladesh has followed safety guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA).
During her Moscow visit earlier this year, Dhaka signed a 500 million U.S. dollars "credit deal" with Russia for the primary work to install two-units of the power plant, each of 1,000 megawatts. Electricity-starved Bangladesh in November, 2011 signed an inter- governmental deal with Russia for construction of the plant.
Hasina's ruling Bangladesh Awami League party says this nuclear power plant was part of the government's vision to produce 20,000 megawatts of power by 2021.
Yeafesh Osman, Bangladesh's state minister for Science and Information & Communication Technology, had earlier said the plant would be built to withstand 10-magnitude earthquakes.
The plant will reportedly cost about 1.5 to 2 billion U.S dollars and the project is to be completed in 2017-18 under the primary plan.
The state-run Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission prepared the action plan for executing the power plant project to meet the growing demand for electricity in the country.
Inadequate natural gas supplies and lack of diverse power sources have left the South Asian country with a large gap between electricity supply and demand, estimated reportedly at about 1,500 megawatts a day in the recent years.
Mahboob Sarwar, general manager for production of Bangladesh Oil, Gas and Mineral Corporation, well known as Petrobangla, said currently the country faces gas shortages, with production at around 2,300 million cubic feet (mmcft) from 25 fields per day against demand of more than 2,800 mmcft a day.