Power department workers work to restore electricity in Sylhet on 19 November after fire broke out a Kumargaon grid
Power department workers work to restore electricity in Sylhet on 19 November after fire broke out a Kumargaon grid Anis Mahmud

The series fire incidents at some power substations at Kumargaon in Sylhet on Tuesday have raised questions. Why and how do the substations catch fire on a regular basis despite modern technology? At least five accidents had happened in substations in four districts earlier this year.

Every fire accident causes suffering to the power consumers. The Tuesday fire took place at a substation that transmits electricity to around 432 thousand consumers across Sylhet and Sunamganj. Due to the fire, power supply to vast areas of the two districts snapped. Eventually, people suffered acute water scarcity. Household chores, office work and business activities were disrupted. Power supply has not been restored in many parts of the two districts even in a week. People are now suffering repeated power cuts. It is fortunate that the fire did not cause casualties, but the negative impact of such accidents cannot be overlooked.

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There are some power generation plants and substations operated by the Power Development Board and Independent Power Producers located close to Kumargaon in Sylhet. After the Tuesday fire, private-run Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB), the power division and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) formed three separate probe committees. Members of the committees inspected the spots. Two of the committees are due submit probe reports today, Sunday.

Lack of regular monitoring and negligence can cause accidents. This may be the reason behind the series of fires. Hence, ensuring responsibility and good management is a must. Persons responsible for such accident must be accountable

In the meantime, statements have been made by PGCB, another private-run company Desh Energy, and BPDB came up. The PGCB probe body said the fire had occurred due to short-circuit. BPDB said a fire occurred first at Desh Energy’s power plant. However, Desh Energy denied the allegation.

The conflicting statements make is difficult to understand the reason behind the fire incident. It is essential for a neutral probe body comprised of experts to be formed. Experts of BUET or other institutions can provide assistance in this regard. Whatever the reasons are, It is now imperative to redress the grievance of the consumers.

Firstly, if the allegations about using substandard and old equipment in the generation plant and substation are proved, the authorities concerned should replace these immediately.

Secondly, international standard security must be ensured at the installations to avoid accidents in future. Lack of regular monitoring and negligence can cause accidents. This may be the reason behind the series of fires. Hence, ensuring responsibility and good management is a must. Persons responsible for such accident must be accountable.

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