• Monday, Feb 18, 2019
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Nasrul: Smooth power supply not possible due to unplanned development

  • Published at 12:22 am September 2nd, 2018
State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid
State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid at a roundtable yesterday COURTESY

The government is well ahead of the target set for the sector

State Minister for Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said uninterrupted power supply at the consumer level will not be possible due to unplanned infrastructural development.

“How can it be possible to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply in a residential building that also runs commercial activities?” he asked while addressing a round-table discussion on the topic “Power Roadmap: Vision 2021.”

National English newspaper the Daily Sun organized the event at its media complex in Dhaka yesterday. Daily Sun Editor Enamul Hoque Chowdhury chaired the program.

“Areas situated on the outskirts of Dhaka, such as Keraniganj and Savar, need to go through proper and planned infrastructural development,” the minister said, recommending that the Detail Area Plan (Dap) be made mandatory not only for Dhaka, but for the rest of the country as well.

Highlighting the need for growing investment in the power sector, he said the investment would boost the country’s per capita income significantly, and bring changes to other economic indices, ultimately helping achieve both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

The minister also asked for constructive criticism, saying it speeds up activities.

Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, secretary of the Power Division, said the government is well ahead of the target set for the sector.

“The prices of power were hiked at least eight times in the last 10 years, but there was still no serious reaction from the people since the price was set within a permissible limit,” he said.

“Users still want electricity, since they prefer accessibility over affordability,” he maintained. 

Speaking on the captive power issue, he said the decision to stop or give more gas connections for captive power plants will depend solely on its efficiency.

“If we find captive power more efficient, why would we not be providing new gas connections for captive power producers?” he said, adding that the government was training a number of people in the power and energy sectors.

Ijaz Hossain, professor of energy and environment at BUET, said the government’s success in the power and energy sector is commendable, but sustainable development still remains an issue. 

The professor also raised concerns about whether the government would get buyers of power in the future, in line with the skyrocketing investment in the power sector. 

He also questioned why there is still load shedding in parts of the country when its power generation capacity is around 17,000MW, with average generation being close to 11,000MW.

Dr M Tamim, professor of petroleum and mineral engineering at BUET, suggested reducing dependency on oil-based sources of power.

He feared that cheaper primary fuels – coal and LNG – and financial capability will be two major challenges for sustainable power generation.

Citing the repeated delays in the commissioning of Bangladesh’s first ever LNG project, he suggested that the LNG projects be land-based.

According to the professor, the country’s power and energy sector still lacks competent manpower in managerial positions, which is why the workforce needs to be trained properly.

The energy expert also urged the government to opt for open tender processes for projects involving massive investment, instead of engaging firms via controversial laws containing provisions for impunity for any anomalies or failures. 

Power Cell Director General Mohammed Hossain presented the keynote paper at the event. The program was also addressed by Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board Chairman Maj Gen (retd) Moin Uddin, and Coal Power Generation Company Managing Director Golam Kibria, among others.