Erratic power cuts reshape lifestyle | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 21, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 21, 2008

Erratic power cuts reshape lifestyle


Candlelit dinners are scarcely a romantic affair for the city dwellers living with frequent load shedding these days.Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain

“Everyone hurry up, let's start dinner. The load shedding is going to start in 20 minutes,” Fatema Mannan, a resident of Rupnagar in Mirpur, called out to her family members.
“If we don't start now then we will have t o dine in candlelight,” she reminded her four children while arranging candles along with rice bowls and curries on the table.
Candlelight dinner is no longer a romantic notion in Dhaka city. It is now a regular custom of everyday life with load shedding situation getting worse.
Not just dining habit, erratic power cuts now dictate life in general these days, forcing the city dwellers to rearrange lifestyle accordingly.
“There is load shedding in every one hour. We are forced to change habits with its schedule. I have to think ahead about my household chores otherwise I will not be able to finish them on time,” Fatema explains.
“Load shedding starts around 9:00am, so the landlord keeps the water pump running until then. I have to finish all the washing and cleaning jobs by then,” she said.
“I leave some of the chores for midnight as there is usually no power cut after 12 at night. It is not possible to finish all the work with preserved water. Besides, it helps me start early in the morning to keep up pace with the load shedding,” Fatema added.
Having a bath has to be scheduled as well in the city. If anyone fails to have a shower in the morning then no-one knows when the next chance to get fresh will come as water supply is disrupted due to power cut during daytime.
A full night sleep is a dream for the city dwellers as there are occasional power cuts late at night. Sleep disorder severely disrupting office work of people.
Cacophony of roaring generators is becoming a normal experience all around the city especially in commercial areas where noise pollution increased tremendously.
The most important source of entertainment, television, also plays hide and seek along with power cuts.
Harun-or-Rashid, a resident of Kalwalapara, Shahalibagh said, "Most of the time I don't get to watch news on television. When we have electricity at home then the cable line is off as the operators are having a load shedding at that time."
Many city dwellers are buying expensive gadgets such as IPS (instant power supply) to make life hassle-free, but it does not work as expected.
Nurul Islam, a resident of East Manipur, said, "I bought an IPS spending around Tk 16,000. Now I cannot even recharge it properly. If the power goes on and off like this the battery of the IPS will soon become weak."
Similar story goes for rechargeable lights and UPS.
Food items rot in freezers, as it often breaks down for low-voltage in many areas.
Power outage is also sending people home earlier than before.
"Now I can spend some time with the kids as stores are closed by 8:00pm,” said a salesman working at a furniture shop in Panthapath.
“Earlier when I went to work in the morning I saw them sleeping and when I went back home late at night they are again sleeping. I never saw my kids playing."
While lifestyle changes are inevitable for most city dwellers, hardship of the low-income people has increased recently. Laundrymen, workers at electronic and metal workshops, motor mechanics are the worst sufferer. Cyber café, computer compose, service centres, photocopy shops, small restaurants and tailors are also suffering immensely. Without electricity they are forced to remain shuts most the day.
Abbas Ali, a laundryman from Rupnagar, said, "It is impossible to work with electric irons these days. So I had to switch back to good old charcoal irons."
Most people go home by 10:00pm these days. Income of the CNG auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw-pullers are shrinking for lack of commuters after that.
Hashem Miah, an auto-rickshaw driver from Tejgaon, said, "I work in the second shift. At least two hours of my shift is wasted every day as there are not many passengers after 10:00pm. Moreover, there are waiting hours at the refuelling station.”
Due to inadequate power generation in several power plants and increasing demand load shedding situation started to worsen early this year.
According to the estimation of Load Dispatch Centre of the Power Development Board around 3,500 MW of power is generated every day. Around 950 MW of daily shortage persists in the country where as in Dhaka city the shortage is around 200 MW.

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