Bangladesh's parliament has passed its first nuclear energy regulatory bill as the country prepares to build an atomic power plant next year using Russian technology, an official said.
Last November, the power-starved nation signed a deal with Russian state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom to build a plant which will have two 1,000 megawatt reactors at a cost of up to $2 billion each.
The parliament passed the legislation late on Thursday as "it is essential for the smooth running of the nuclear power plant", head of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission A.S.M Firoz told AFP.
The bill will now be approved by President Zillur Rahman and become law, removing the last regulatory hurdle to allow the construction of the nuclear power plant to go ahead.
The law makes the operators of the plant liable in the case of an accident and creates a new atomic watchdog, Firoz said.
Bangladesh has selected the northwestern town of Rooppur for the nuclear plant. Construction is expected to start in late 2013 and power is forecast to start flowing in 2018.
Impoverished Bangladesh has long suffered severe power outages as demand for electricity soars on the back of a booming economy that has grown at around six percent a year since 2004.
The power crisis has worsened in recent years as the gap between demand and supply shot up to 2,000 megawatts per day, or 40 percent of daily production, due to years of under-investment.
In 2007 Bangladesh received approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the industry's global watchdog, to set up a nuclear power plant.
Officials said the country needed to build the plants because reserves of the country's main source of energy -- natural gas -- were fast depleting and could run out in a decade.
Source: AFP South Asian Edition