Remove mismanagement in the Rural Electrification Board

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

If the villages fare well, the cities will survive -- the actual truth behind this common rhetoric is that the villages have always been neglected and are still neglected, in favour of ensuring urban-centric development and its catering to its educated beneficiaries.

A towering example of this is the blatant negligence of the Rural Electrification Board (REB) when it comes to the question of providing uninterrupted power supply to the rural areas.

When there is a power failure in the capital and other major cities, the power authorities frantically make efforts to resolve the problem. But there is not such inclination or drive when it comes to resolving the power problems in the rural areas.

Alongside the delays in repairing faults in the lines, frequent load-shedding is a regular feature in the village areas

According to the government, 100 per cent of the people in the country have power coverage. It perhaps is true that power connections have been set up all over the country. However, getting connections and receiving uninterrupted power supply is not one and the same thing. It is as meaningless digging drains all throughout the expansive crop fields, but as not ensuring steady supply of water for irrigation.

In the 47 years since the Rural Electrification Board (REB) has been set up with the responsibility to supply power to 462 upazilas of the country, it has failed to achieve the ability to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply.

If there is a power deficit, one can perhaps accept load-shedding as normal. But even though there is no­ deficit of electricity, the rural people are being deprived of power. Power supply shuts down at the slightest rain or storm. Sometimes it takes days before the power supply is restored.

REB may come up with all sorts of excuses to defend its failure to fulfill its responsibility of supplying 80 per cent of the country with electricity. But the fact remains that REB lacks in efficiency, capacity and workforce to carry out this responsibility. The common people are deprived of 100 per cent power supply due to their flimsy distribution system.

REB authorities say that the glitches in the Dhaka power supply lines can be detected automatically. But REB power supply lines are extensive. These lines traverse through forests, jungles, houses and trees and so they have to rely on the complainants to detect the faults. Unless anyone directly points this out, it takes inordinately long to detect the fault.

If the absence of an automatic fault detection system is the main problem, then procuring this system should be the priority. The government must also pay attention to this.

Former officials of REB have said that the organisation has some technical problems as well as a shortage of workforce. This has always been so, but the problems were not that bad as they have been for the past one year or so. That indicates the centre is paying less attention to the rural areas.

Alongside the delays in repairing faults in the lines, frequent load-shedding is a regular feature in the village areas.

On a positive note, REB has taken up a pilot project for automatically detecting faults. This is being added to the entire power supply network around the country. This will enable the concerned authorities to detect any glitches or be alerted if a tree has fallen on the supply lines.

Highest priority must be attached to this initiative. This will at least, to some extent, assuage the grievance to the rural people about being discriminated against when it comes to power supply.

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