Over the past nine years, the government has drastically improved the power crisis, which was once a nagging problem in the country. In 2009, the Bangladesh Power Development Board had generated 4,100 MW power against a demand that hovered around 5,500 MW.
As the demand continued to increase, the government also approved an impressive number of power projects. Recently, the power generation has reached over 10,000 MW. Bangladesh Power Development Board has the capacity to generate more than 11,000 MW.
Though the supply has increased, total demand for power is increasing simultaneously. The gap between demand and supply causes power outages or load shedding.
Power outages are quite rare in most areas of Dhaka. Even if load shedding does occur, it does not linger for more than 10 to 15 minutes.
But the situation is worse in some villages and unions of the country who still face frequent power outages.
Villages like Ramchandrapur, Bakhrabad, Kathaliakanda and Dighaldi of Comilla district, under Palli Biddut Samity, Comilla-2 of Rural Electrification Board (REB), are suffering from frequent power outages. As nearly 200,000 people are living in these villages, there are five primary schools, three high schools and one college in the locality.
There are also hundreds of diagnostic centres and clinics along with markets, shops and places of worship where electricity is needed especially during the day time. But power outages varying from 10 to 12 hours during the day affects the businesses as well as academic activities in the educational institutions.
There are allegations that at times, the power outages also occur through the night, making it tough for people to sleep. As a result, students of these villages, whose public examinations are knocking on the door, cannot study on these nights. The crisis in the area has been the worst during the ongoing summer season, according to residents.
As neighbouring villages of Shubharampur and Ramkrishnapur do not face the same number of outages, residents of the affected villages are curious about the reasons for which their villages are suffering so much.
Similar complaints have been received from other parts of Bangladesh including some areas of Rangpur, Barisal, Bhola, Rajshahi, Noakhali, Narail, Natore, Bagerhaat, Naogan, Rajbari, Sylhet, Bogra and more. In Khanshama upazila under Dinajpur, uninterrupted power stays for less than six to seven hours daily, as has been reported by the daily Bhorer Kagoj recently.
The national dailies reported on the issue over the past few months. Senior officials of the REB had mentioned that they are doing their level best to ensure that electricity reaches all the households in these rural areas. But they had also mentioned that the prime reason behind the outages is that most distribution lines in rural Bangladesh are severely damaged or faulty.
The situation has not improved despite recommendations made by a parliamentary standing committee in August of last year. The committee had asked to repair the old distribution lines and install new ones to solve the problem. It will be helpful for the residents of these areas if the concerned government departments step up their efforts to identify the real reasons behind the power outages in the rural areas and take measures to address them.
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