A declaration of 100 per cent electricity coverage has been made. Do you think that 100 per cent of the people in the country will actually avail electricity?

The government's aim had been to take electricity to 100 per cent areas of the country and this has concluded with the official declaration made to this end. But it must be seen if everybody actually gets electricity. Given the increase in the prices of fuel oil and gas, it does not seem likely that power can be supplied at subsidised rates to meet the demands this summer.

There are two challenges ahead. Even after 100 per cent electrification, there may be load shedding due to the effort to control costs. Also, the purchasing capacity must be increased of those who are unable to take power connections even though they are under electricity coverage. A study of BIDS said that though power facilities have reached certain areas, 15 per cent of the population does not have the ability to get power connections.

With power connections reaching isolated chars (shoals), the people of these settlements now have the opportunity to take up various economic activities. How do you evaluate that?

The people who receive power connections in these isolated areas will be hit the hardest by the high costs of fuel. The income of the marginalised people has decreased even further in this corona situation. So the challenge that looms large in front of the government is ensuring that 100 per cent of the people actually get power connections and that they do not face power outage.

A large part of the power generation comes from the private sector. How do you see this?

Production capacity disproportionate to the demands cannot be an indicator of development in the power sector. Technically, this is unplanned, unacceptable and illogical development. We are having to pay additional costs for this and will have to do so in the future too. Most of the power production capacity relies on coal, gas and liquified fuel. With the international market trends of inflated prices, most of the production capacity will remain unutilised as fuel will not be supplied as per demand. This will be a burden to the nation. Capacity payment will simply continue in the private sector. It is feared that this will be unbearable for both the consumer and the government.

The distribution and transmission lines haven't been able to keep up with the generation. Do you think a high price is being paid for this?

There is no shortage of transmission lines for the present supply of power. The demand for power has not increased as estimated, particularly in the industrial sector and in Dhaka and Chittagong. This is a warning for us. Without the guarantee of uninterrupted power supply, a large part of these sectors remained dependent on the captive electricity they produce themselves. And so demand for power from the national grid hasn't increased. However, transmission lines were supposed to have increased along with the increase in production. It had been heard that the private sector would be brought into this sector too. This would have been even more alarming.

How far do you think that the consumers will receive uninterrupted power supply at affordable rates?

This is something elusive for the consumers, something that can be heard, but not seen.

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