Why DST failed?
When the daylight savings time (DST) was introduced in June last year, many people were critical about its impact because it changed their lifestyle.
Unable to accept change, they sarcastically termed the DST as “digital” time. Many others however found the measure useful, and welcomed it.
Back then, The Daily Star obtained data from the Power Development Board (PDB) to see if introduction of the DST had any effect on energy consumption. After all, the idea of DST -- introduced first in 1895 in the US -- was supposed to have some impact on energy consumption.
The PDB data back then showed that the peak power demand -- typically around 7:00pm to 8:30pm -- was reduced by 200 megawatts during June-July due to the DST. In addition the traditional peak power demand hours shifted from evening to midnight during July, meaning the country's power demand shot to its highest point around midnight to 1:00am, instead of the typical peak hours of 7:00pm to 8:30pm.
The gap between peak and lowest power demands also reduced to only 300 MW to 400 MW from the past trend of 1,000 mw to 2,000 MW, meaning due to the DST the evening demand reduced to a level much closer to that of other times of the day. Typically power demands stay at the lowest point in the morning hours.
But the general people did not feel the difference because load shedding was still on, after all the country's power demand and supply has remained inconsistent for years now.
Unless some new major power projects add power to the national grid, the nation will not see an end to the load shedding.
According to the international practices, the DST should have ended in October, because by then the duration of the day starts to shrink. According to the original proposal of PDB, the period of DST should be from April 1 to October 1.
But for some unknown reason, the government stuck to the idea of DST beyond October. And then the troubles began.
Back in June-July following the introduction of DST, the level of load shedding hovered around 360 MW to 650 MW. But between August and October, the level increased to 500 MW to 880 MW.
Moreover, the daylight continued to shrink, by November, especially students and teachers became the first victims of the DST as they had to wake up and start for their institutions when it was still dark. The problem became unbearable by mid-December, when finally the cabinet decided to revert to the old time from January 1 this year.
By then, the DST left a large segment of the people bitter about its introduction, on genuine grounds.
If the government stuck to the original proposal of PDB, the bitterness would not have been created.
The failure of DST in Bangladesh has largely been a fault of the political decision making process.
DST is practiced widely in the northern hemisphere and Australia -- not out of pleasure, but out of necessity. It is also followed in some South American, African, and Asian countries. If it can work in those countries, it should have worked in Bangladesh.