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Drawback in power sector during BNP regime ‘unprecedented’: PM

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PM-Speaking2DHAKA-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the country’s drawback in power sector during BNP regime was unprecedented, which was not seen any part of the world.

Bangladesh’s total electricity generation capacity was 1600-megawatt (MW) when Awami League assumed power in 1996. Most part of the country was plunging into darkness at that time and the government for the first time engaged the private sector to boost the sector.

“With the engagement of private sector, she said, the country’s total power generation capacity rose to 4300 MW in five years. But, the generation capacity unprecedentedly came down to 3200 MW in next five-year tenure of BNP.

“I don’t know whether people of any country have such a bitter experience,” she said while inaugurating National Power and Energy Week 2018 at function at Bashundhara City International Convention Center here yesterday.

Sheikh Hasina said production cost of every unit of electricity is around Taka 6.25, but the government is making it available to people at Taka 4.82.

In future the government might withdraw the subsidy when country’s economy would get better, she said urging the people to maintain austerity in using electricity.

Reiterating AL’s firm commitment to make the country self-reliant in power and energy, the prime minister said her government has attached highest importance to regional cooperation in power sector with construction of power plants and grid lines with neighbouring countries as well as BIMSTEC countries.

Work is progressing to import more 500-MW electricity from India and hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan. Bangladesh, India and Bhutan are waiting to sign a tripartite memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the power sector, she said.

The National Power and Energy Week 2018 is being observed with the theme ‘Onirban Agami’ aimed at showcasing the successes, current activities and future plan of the power and energy sector to the people.

As well, the week will be featured with the programmes of debate competition for school and college students, awarding journalists for best reporting and employees for good performance, honouring public and private sector entrepreneurs and energy consumers of residential, commercial and industrial sectors for good practices.

Minister for energy, water resources and irrigation of Nepal Barsha Man Pun Ananta, Prime Minister’s Power and Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Bir Bikram, and chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power and Energy Md Tajul Islam attended the function as special guests while State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid was in the chair.

Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus gave a presentation on the overall activities and future plan of the sector while Mineral Resources Division Secretary Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem spoke, among others, on the occasion.

An audio visual documentary was exhibited on development of the sector during the tenure of the present government.
The prime minister said with the aim of creating an exploitation-free
happy and prosperous society, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur
Rahman confirmed national security through the purchase of five gas fields
from the foreign oil company.

“But, his dream could not come true as the wheel of the development of
the sector became stagnant after Bangabandhu’s murder and following the
politics of murder, coup and conspiracy,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the country’s power generation capacity now reached
20,000 MW and three to five lakh consumers were added to the national grid in
every month, reaching the total number of consumers to more than 30 million
from 18 million ten years ago.

She thanked all concerned who were involved in this success.

“In 100 years before 2009, a total of 27 power plants were constructed in
the country whereas 101 plants were constructed in last ten years. The
government has a plan to generate 60,000 MW electricity by 2041 while 40,000
MW by 2030 and 24,000 MW by 2021,” she said.

The prime minister said the present government also constructed more than
three thousand circuit kilometre transmission line to ensure uninterrupted
power supply to people.

Noting that distribution lines were also upgraded from 2.6 lakh kilometres
to 4.57 lakh kilometers, the premier said in 2009, the number of people
having access to electricity was 47 percent, which now increased to 90
percent.

Per capita power consumption is now 464 KWh, which was 220 kWh in 2009,
she said.

Sheikh Hasina said about 130,000 new irrigation connections have been
given to framers. Power connections have also been given to Rohingya camp at
the shortest possible time, she said.

She said system loss in power distribution has been reduced to 11.40
percent from 18.45 percent while the government is making relentless efforts
to generate electricity from renewable sources to ensure energy security for
future generation and address global warming.

By installing 53 million solar home systems, the prime minister said,
about 220 MW power is being generated and two solar power plants have been
set up with capacity of about 30 MW.

Pointing out her government’s steps to increase natural gas production
and set up coal-based power plant, she said average production of gas has
increased from 1,745 million cubic feet to 2,550 million cubic feet per day.

Sheikh Hasina said a total of 862 kilometre new gas transmission pipeline
has been set up. A total of 33 new gas reservoirs were identified in the
country while digging of 14 search wells and 57 development wells were
completed.

Before assuming power in 1996, the prime minister said, about 1,200 to 1800
metric tonnes of coal were extracted from country’s lone productive
Barapukuria coal mine per day. At present, she said, about 4,000 to 4,500
metric tonnes of high quality bituminous coal is being extracted from the
mine using latest technology.

Sheikh Hasina said in 2008-09 fiscal, total capacity of oil reservoir was
nine lakh tonnes, which increased to 1.2 million tonnes in fiscal 2016-17.

Considering the issue of gas reserves in the country, she said, 56
private companies were given licenses to set up LPG plants to meet household
demands.

To fulfill the growing demand of oil refineries, the prime minister said,
the government has taken a project to construct Eastern Refinery Unit-2.
Besides, efforts have been made to construct 237 kilometre pipeline of Dhaka
and Chittagong aiming to improving the supply of fuel, she said.

Sheikh Hasina said good governance has been established in the power
sector by introducing prepaid metres and providing online-based services.
About 1.4 million prepaid metres have been set up, she added.

“The government has taken initiatives to import LNG from abroad to meet
the growing demand of the country. Initiatives have been taken to set up
ground-based LNG terminal in Piara port, Kutubdia and Maheshkhali.
Initiatives have been taken to import LNG from Qatar and Oman and to buy LNG
from Spot Market,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said work of the Maheshkhali-Anwara 91-kilometre pipeline
has been completed for supplying the imported LNG. “Besides, construction of
30-kilometre Anwara-Faujdarhat pipeline and 181-kilometre Faujdarhat-
Bakhrabad pipeline will be completed soon.”

After establishing the rights of Bangladesh on 1,18,813 square kilometres
of maritime area in the Bay of Bengal, she said, Bangladesh has adopted
necessary policies to tap the maritime resources.

Due to the continuous expansion of the power sector, the socioeconomic
development of the country’s rural areas became possible, the premier said,
adding that development of the power sector helped ensure the country’s food
security.

The prime minister distributed awards among winners for best essay
writing on power sector, best reporting in media, best performers and best
entrepreneurs. Later, she visited a fair organised on the premises of the
convention centre.