Idle power stations cause severe load shedding in Ctg city
With two gas power stations in Chittagong sitting idle due to a lack of gas supply, load shedding in the port city has reached a critical level causing immense sufferings to city dwellers.
Frequent load shedding has led to students studying in the candlelight almost every evening, people passing sleepless nights due to unbearable heat, and businesses making losses because of decreased productivity.
Mahbub Chowdhury, vice president of Chittagong Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said frequent power outages decrease productivity, increase cost of production, decrease lifetime of machines, and affect export through shipment delays.
Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, former vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said even a medium sized garment factory has to spend an additional Tk 3 lakh per month for fuel to run machines that would usually be run with electricity.
“Many small and medium factories will shut down if the present situation continues,” he said.
Mahbub said Chittagong city gets 11 percent of the country's total production of electricity, while Dhaka gets 40 percent.
He urged the government to allocate at least 25 percent of the total production to Chittagong.
The port city, on an average, demands 650 MW power per day, with the demand increasing to 800 MW during peak hours, said Nazrul Islam, chief engineer (distribution) of Power Development Board, Chittagong (south) zone.
“But, we are only supplied with 500 MW power on an average,” he added.
Residents of Chittagong city say power outage has become unbearable. Many areas of the city suffer 15 to 17 hours without electricity.
“My elderly mother suffering from old age disease sleeps fitfully during the night due to frequent load shedding,” said Anupam Paul, a resident of Dewan Bazar.
Saiful Islam, a resident of Mohammadpur, said his one-year-old baby cries all night as he cannot sleep due to heat.
“The present government claims that electricity generation has increased, but we do not see any proof of it. Meanwhile, electricity has become costlier,” said one Zabed Wali.
Chittagong city residents have been plagued by load shedding since August when the two power stations shut down, said Swapan Kanti Chakraborty, chief engineer of Chattagram Bidyut Kendra.
Shikalbaha Peaking Power Plant shut down on August 26, while one unit of Raozan Thermal Power Plant closed on August 13 and the other one on August 24, he added.
“The Shikalbaha plant can produce 150 MW of electricity daily, while the Raozan plant can produce 360 MW of electricity per day,” said Swapan.
Meanwhile, officials of Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company Limited (KGDCL) expressed little hope about supplying enough gas to solve the power crisis.
Meer Abdul Matin, managing director of the company, said the city demands gas over 402 million cubic feet, but at the moment, KGDCL gets just 247 million cubic feet gas from the national grid. “We have to supply gas to fertiliser factories currently, and so we cannot supply gas to the power stations,” he said.