If crisis of natural gas has been endemic in Chattogram, it has become worse of late. One explanation offered by officials at the Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited is that pigging work being carried out to remove accumulated carbon and other by-products in the pipeline has temporarily caused the pressure of gas to abruptly fall. Once the task gets completed the pressure of gas will become normal and the crisis will be over. Flushing the unwanted residues from a 175-kilometre-long pipeline cannot be completed overnight. This much is understood. What is however not clear if it is a routine work carried out in order to avert clogging of the supply line by unwanted by-products. In fact, shortage of gas has had a serious consequence on industrial belts in and around Chattogram.
A myth was created by the official circle that the country was virtually floating on natural gas - the reserve of which would last for eternity. How this unwise misrepresentation of gas reserve affected industrial initiatives is a story of frustration and anguish. Investors were enthusiastic about the prospect of using gas as fuel for their factories and industries and they started setting up productive units in an increasing number. But suddenly they were given the disappointing news that the natural gas reserve was much too limited to serve them. Many factories in Chattogram could not go into operation simply because they did not receive gas connection after long wait. They did not have provision for use of other types of fuel or the alternative types would render their venture unprofitable. Housing in the port city also suffered because domestic gas connection was suspended when an objective estimate of gas reserve was at hand.
As a precious resource this country was fortunate enough to strike underground, natural gas suffered the ultimate misuse imaginable. Apart from the Tengratila and Magurchhara gas blowouts, the undying flames in common consumers' kitchens have depleted the fuel in no small measures. Metered use of gas could sustain the supply of gas for domestic use for many more years. Time will arrive soon when residents of cities enjoying this near endless supply will find it totally empty. Both the authorities concerned and consumers are to blame because neither of them gave a good account of themselves so far as rational use of gas is concerned. New gas reserves are yet to be found. Unless offshore reserves in the Bay of Bengal are stricken and made use of, the country's reliance on imported fossil fuel will increase.
Now the government has become wiser. It has already gone for import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). But even here the cart was put before the horse instead of the other way round. The ship carrying LNG has arrived for weeks but it cannot be delivered because the infrastructure for its delivery could not be readied. The fault with the transmission line has delayed the process. This is undesirable. Whose fault is this? People in charge should be taken to task for not making a proper plan and its execution. Had this been accomplished well in time, the impact of disruption of the piped gas would not be so severe on Chattogram.
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