Confusion on social media
Following implementation of the underground electricity system in Sylhet from January 5, various news items arose on social media about who deserves credit for this commendable initiative: the Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) or the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB)?
Many even congratulated SCC Mayor Ariful Haque Choudhury, giving him credit for the work.
The BPDB however put out a special notice stating the underground electricity system has been introduced in Sylhet as a pilot project of BPDB’s “Power Distribution System Development Project, Sylhet division,” financed by the government.
The notice also says electricity is being supplied by an underground network in the vicinity of the Shrine of Hazrat Shahjalal (R) from the first month of this year.
Alongside a city beautification initiative, undisturbed electricity connection has been ensured. The city corporation cooperated in the power distribution efforts, says the notice.
KM Nazim Uddin, project manager of the Power Distribution System Development Project, Sylhet division, informed Dhaka Tribune that the project was initiated in May 2018 and is scheduled to be completed within June, 2021.
Regarding the confusion over who gets credit for the project, Mayor Ariful Haque Choudhury said: "I never claimed this project was completed solely by SCC. This is government work being implemented by the BPDB.
"But the city corporation provided all kinds of logistics support," he added.
In the project proposal there was no money allocated for excavating roads to draw electricity lines underneath it. SCC took that responsibility.
BPDB also faced difficulties removing electricity poles and setting up transformers beside roads. He said he made sure everything went smoothly by being present at the site.
He undertook this project during his first tenure but the money allocated for the project was returned when he was jailed. He restarted the project when he was elected mayor again.
Ariful Haque also said he had sent demi official letters to the BPDB chairman a number of times via the former finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith.
After a lot of back and forth, BPDB agreed to go through with the project. He also sought help from Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in this regard.
SCC Chief Engineer Md Noor Azizur Rahman said: “It was a big challenge to implement the underground electricity system, which the city corporation and the BPDB were successful in doing so.”
Sylhet is the first city of Bangladesh where electricity is being supplied through an underground electricity system. It is in an experimental phase now but will be officially inaugurated soon.
The Eastway Electric company and J&C Impex Limited JV were given responsibility for the project. The companies say the project was implemented by both the SCC and BPDB.
Currently 450 people in the Shahjalal (R) shrine area are benefiting from this underground electricity system. Work is in progress for two 11KV lines from the Ambarkhana area to Chowhatta, and another from Sheikhghat to Circuit House, to be moved underground, informed BPDB.