2 years ago

Outages unbearable countrywide amid simmering heat

Gas crunch cited behind power-production shortage

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Load shedding of electricity takes a turn for the worse in Dhaka and elsewhere across the country, disrupting activities in households and businesses.

City-dwellers in various parts of the capital are experiencing the outages two-three times, making life a misery especially in the prevailing hot and humid weather when day temperature reaches almost 35 degrees Celsius.

The power deficit, in fact, further enhanced the expenses of people at a time when prices of almost all commodities are on upturn as flow continues rising to the outlets selling IPS and chargeable fan.

Officials engaged in power generation and distribution blame gas shortages, saying that the power stations failed to generate power as required due mainly to the scarcity of primary energy. And this mismatch triggers the sudden pains.

Mostafa Mridha, who lives in East Rampura, said he daily experienced load shedding twice or thrice for the last several days--and every time a power cut continues for more than half an hour.

"It makes our life horrible in this hot weather. I purchased a rechargeable fan yesterday (Monday) to get rid of the situation because I have a baby girl aged 15 months," he said.

Similar are the experiences shared by consumers in other areas in the city, including Khilgaon, Malibagh, Mouchak, Nakhalpara, Shantinagar, Mogbazar, Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Mohammadpur, Mirpur, Sutrapur, Jatrabari, Badda and Old Dhaka.

Like the commoners, businesses also suffered for the power crisis as their expenses go up significantly.

Ashraful Islam, a worker of Hotel Kasturi located at Rampura, said their expenses were escalated by the load shedding as they had to operate generator during the no-power time.

According to the statistics of state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), the country's highest power generation was predicted at 13,070mw in the evening on Tuesday against a predicted demand for 14,000mw, meaning a 970mw gap between the peak-hour demand and supply in power generation.

"So, the deficit needs to be covered through load shedding," a senior BPDB official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told the FE.

He said power stations having generation capacity of 3500 megawatts (mws) remain idle because of the shortage of natural gas.

He informed that they usually receive 1200mmcf natural gas on average a day. "Now, the supply declined to less than 900mmcf."

Very recently, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid admitted to the crisis in power and gas supply, offering apology to the people for the temporary inconveniences.

On his verified Facebook page he wrote: "Power production is being disrupted due to shortage of gas. As a result, the power supply is being disrupted in many areas. The power generation generally will be normal once the gas supply improved. In such a situation I regret the temporary inconvenience."

Energy experts think government's growing focus on building more power stations instead of the primary energy bred the problem.

Professor at the Department of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Engineering (PMRE) at BUET Dr M Tamim mentioned that the country had gone through severe load shedding in-between 2005 and 2009 due to less production of power.

Thereafter, the country gave utmost priority to power generation but the policy was still on although the problem is changed, he notes.

"Now, the main problem of the power sector lies on primary energy. This needs to be the priority," he says.

Citing national budgets for the last several fiscals, Mr. Tamim, also former energy adviser of a caretaker government, said the government is giving allocation between Tk 180 billion and Tk200 billion for energy sector while the allocation for power sector varies from Tk 250 billion to Tk 260 billion.

"But the problem is now in energy sector. Unfortunately, investment is being made in power sector, ignoring energy. We need to ask why we are not enhancing supply of gas instead of installing new plants," he said.

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