Load shedding continues: Don't the rural people need electricity?

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The meteorological department has forecasted that the mercury level won’t decline. It is only normal that the weather will be hot in Bangladesh towards the end of Bengali month Chaitra.

But if the rate of load shedding also increases with that heat that too during Ramadan, people’s sufferings become endless.

Prothom Alo reports that at the beginning of April, there’s even seven to eight hours of load shedding a day in different rural areas of the country. While the demand has increased in this hot weather, electricity generation cannot be increased due to lack of fuel.

The electricity generation capacity of the country is about 26,000 megawatt now. The maximum demand during the day on Wednesday was 15,500 megawatt. At that time the supply deficit was more than 2,000 megawatt, which was balanced through load shedding.

All of this load shedding mainly happened outside of Dhaka, in different rural areas of the country. Meanwhile, there was highest 1,826 megawatt load shedding at midnight on the previous day.

Though the power division claims there’s no load shedding in Dhaka, the reality is different. In many areas the power goes out several times a day.

Meanwhile, the situation of rural areas outside of Dhaka and other mega cities is extremely worrying. In some places, there’s seven to eight hours of load shedding. Just as the public life is distraught because of power crisis, the agricultural and industrial production is disrupted as well.

Prothom Alo reported excessive load shedding in Dinajpur, Rangpur, Bogura, Sylhet, Lakshmipur, Cumilla, Mymensingh and Gazipur regions. A farmer from the northern region said that without uninterrupted power supply they would have to rely on diesel. The cost will increase several times in that case.

During summer in the last two years there have been more than three hours of load shedding on average every day. In some places it went up to eight or ten hours. Although the supply is not uninterrupted, the cost has increased in the power sector because of the increased production capacity.

Even without generating electricity, the capacity charge has to be paid. As a result, the subsidy is increasing every year. In the last one and a half decades, PDB has incurred huge losses even after increasing the electricity price 12 times at the wholesale level and 14 times at the retail level.

According to Rural Electrification Board data, their electricity demand was maximum 7,900 megawatts per hour on Wednesday. Meanwhile they received the supply of 6,100 megawatts at that time. They had to do 1,800 megawatts of load shedding in REB region.

Power division records showed that 976 megawatts of power is saved if there’s one hour of load shedding throughout the country. According to that calculation, more than two hours of load shedding is required for a deficit of 2,000 megawatts.

There’s wastage, corruption as well as wrong government policies behind uninterrupted power supply not being ensured despite increasing the price in phases.

While the power division has kept the load shedding at bearable level in city areas including Dhaka, the situation has escalated to alarming level in rural areas. If there’s three to seven hours of load shedding right at the beginning of summer the situation will turn even more dreadful in May and June.

The government probably kept the load shedding in cities at tolerable level fearing protest. But the concerned people should remember that the village people also can get angered.

In the past, they even gave their lives protesting for electricity and fertilizer. No one wishes for the situation to take such a turn. The government has to arrange for necessary fuel so that the sufferings of load shedding reduce to some extent at least.

Also Read