- Published on Sunday, 10 September 2017 22:44
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Reiterating her call to the people to be economical in using electricity, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her government is going to introduce pre-paid meters across the country to check misuse of power and pilferage of its bill.
"Electricity is an asset of the country. So, I would like to request all to be economical in using power," she said while inaugurating 100 percent electricity coverage in the country's 10 upazilas through videoconferencing from her official residence Ganabhaban on Sunday afternoon.
The premier also urged the people of the country to use pre-paid metres to prevent wastage of electricity. "I would like to request the people to use pre-paid metres and switch off lights and fans when those are not necessary ... I seek cooperation of the people in this regard," she added.
Through the videoconferencing, Sheikh Hasina also opened Ashuganj 450 MW North Combined Cycle, Simple Cycle Plant (North) and Keraniganj furnace-oil based plant having 108 MW generation-capacity.
Moreover, she inaugurated transmission of additional 60 MW power from Tripura plant, India in radial mode.
The 10 upazilas brought under 100 percent electricity coverage are: Mollahat and Fakirhat of Bagherhat, Hakimpur of Dinajpur, Kotchandpur of Jhenidah, Fenchuganj and Sylhet Sadar of Sylhet, Bheramara of Kushtia, Bhairab of Kishoreganj, Sitakunda of Chittagong and Narsingdi Sadar of Narsingdi district.
PM's Energy Adviser Dr Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury and State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipu spoke at the function while Power Division Secretary Dr Ahmed Kaikaus gave an overview of the overall electricity situation in the country.
PM's Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury moderated the function.
Later, the premier talked to the cross section of people, including public representatives, high officials, religious leaders, students, people with disabilities and tea labourers, through the videoconferencing.
The prime minister said the government is providing electricity to the people at 22 percent subsidised rate than the production cost.
"The government is counting a huge amount of loss from power sector every year, but its priority is to the improvement of living standard of the people," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she herself switches off lights and fans when she comes out of the room of her residence.
"There is no shame to put off lights or fans by own hands," she said.
The premier said she doesn't need to pay electricity bill, as the government pays her bill. "People of the country belong to the government and assets of the people are damaged for misuse of electricity. So, why I would destroy the public property," she added.
Sheikh Hasina said there are some big and rich officials in the country who never switch off lights or fans by their own hands.
"They think that others will put off their lights and fans. As a result, the electricity is misused," she said.
The premier said her government is going to introduce pre-paid metres across the country to check misuse of power as well as to stop manipulation of electricity bill.
"We want to make this arrangement across the country to check wastage of electricity and stop manipulation of bill," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said there was a word in the past that "Sarkar Ka Mal Daria Me Dhal" (throw government's property into the water). "But I want that the people will use the government property by considering those their own assets," she added.
Regarding bringing 10 more upazilas under 100 percent electricity
coverage, the prime minister said her government will make arrangements in phases so that all the upazilas of the country are brought under cent percent electricity coverage.
"As many as 80 percent people are now getting electricity facilities and Insha Allah cent percent people of the country will be provided with electricity," she said.
While spelling out her government's steps for boosting power generation, Sheikh Hasina said the government is constructing a nuclear power plant in Roopur in northern part of Bangladesh to meet the increasing demand of electricity in the country.
"We will also build such a plant in southern part of the country to increase power production," she said.
The prime minister said her government in 1996 first made open the power sector in the private sector and two big power plants - Meghnaghat and Haripur -- were established at that time in the private sector.
"Besides, we have set up small power plants in the private sector and the task was not easy for us as we had to face criticism in this regard," she said.
The prime minister said negotiations are underway among Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal over the import of hydroelectricity.
"We have taken steps to import diesel through pipelines from Numrigarh of India to meet the demand of energy of the northern Bengal," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has taken initiatives to make LP gas available for household use.
"We have made it open in the private sector ... we have taken steps for constructing floating LNG terminal along with setting up permanent LNG depots," she said.
The prime minister said her government has been able to generate 15,750 MW of electricity from 3,200 MW in the last eight years. As many as 80 percent people are now getting electricity from 47 percent in 2009, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has set up 45 lakh solar panels in those areas having no electricity.
"We have made open the power sector in private sector as the demand for electricity is raising very fast ... in the past the people demanded food, but they now want electricity as their capacity of using electricity has gone up," she said.
The prime minister also came down heavily on the last BNP-Jamaat government and the subsequent caretaker government for not taking any initiative for boosting power production. "They did not produce a single megawatt of electricity in their seven-year rule," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also mentioned her refusal of selling of gas to other countries before the 2001 general election. "We were not allowed to come to power in that election as we didn't agree to sell gas," she said.
In this connection, she said the people of the country get nervous when any big country makes any proposal and somebody suffers from anxiety to accept the proposal.
She said the US company was supposed to produce gas and Indian company was supposed to buy that gas. "When the proposal was made, I said this gas is the asset of the people."
She added: "First we have to meet the demand of the people and reserve for 50 years will be made for the future generations. If additional gas exists then I'm ready to sell. Before that I can't sell the gas as the people didn't give such rights to me ... we have come to power for the people and they will get the top priority."
She said all won't accept the proposal of big countries and there are some people in the country who are not only ready to sell gas but also the country for greed of power.
"The BNP leader agreed that proposal that they will sell gas if they come to power," she said.
Photo: Saiful Islam Kallol