'The gas shortage in Bangladesh is a man-made crisis, and despite gaining new sea territory in the Bay of Bengal, we are yet to extract gas from this potential region'
The Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has demanded that widespread corruption be curbed in the gas sector, and urged that fair gas prices be set.
CAB authorities made the demands at a press conference held at Sagor-Runi Conference Hall of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity on Wednesday.
Addressing the conference, CAB President Golam Rahman said: “The fuel and energy sector is riddled with widespread corruption and irregularities. The government formulates effective laws, but irregularities start during its implementation.
“Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources is supposed to regulate the gas companies, but those who head those companies, are also top officials at the ministry. This is major reason for corruption in the sector.”
He recommended that ministry officials should not be allowed to head gas companies, in a bid to curb irregularities.
Addressing the issue of Barapukuria coal mine graft, Golam Rahman said: “System loss cannot be the reason for the disappearance of 144,644 metric tons of coal, which is worth around Tk230 crore.”
He said: “Coal has been stolen, and those responsible must be brought to justice, through proper investigation.”
Besides, CAB Energy Adviser Dr M Shamsul Alam said: “Companies like Bapex and Titas are supplying the consumer with minimum of gas, but charging them full price.
“The government has banned new gas connections in the industry and residential sectors, but the officials concerned are granting new connections by taking hefty bribes.”
Meanwhile, eminent architect Mobasher Hossain said: “The theft of coal is easy to notice, but the irregularities in gas sector are difficult to measure. Some corrupt government officials are embezzling crores of Taka using the excuse of system loss in the energy sector.
“The gas shortage in Bangladesh is a man-made crisis, and despite gaining new sea territory in the Bay of Bengal, we are yet to extract gas from this potential region.”
He said: “Even thought we have territory in the Bay of Bengal, the Indian and Myanmar government are utilizing the region more than us.”
CAB Vice President SM Nazer Hossain and General Secretary Advocate Humayun Kabir Bhuiyan spoke at the program among others.
CAB concluded the press conference with some recommendations for the government, for preventing unfair gas price hikes in the future and for bringing more transparency in the sector.