Monday, November 23, 2020

BPDB`s new project of Tk 4.12b is an opportunity to plunder in the last days

Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has recently undertaken a Tk 4.12-billion project for 100 per cent sustainable electrification of Hatiya, Nijhumdwip, Kutubdia and Sonarampur Islands. It aims to take preparations like installation of a power substation and power distribution line. The distribution system will be developed to supply electricity from the proposed 8-10 MW oil-fired power station at Hatiya under a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative.

BPDB has proposed a staggering Tk 228.52 million for some non-essentials as part of its power supply to Hatiya and three other southern islands. Under the preparatory work, insiders said, the state-owned power producer will construct two rest houses, two office buildings and a dormitory at Hatiya.  Unfortunately the BPDB would invest only Tk 2.62 billion, which is 64 per cent of the Tk 4.12-billion project, in power distribution system upgradation work. The remaining 36 per cent of the total cost would be spent on rest house and office construction, consultancy, training, honorarium, purchase of vehicles, tax and VAT payment.

The main question arises as to why 100 per cent sustainable electrification is needed for these remote islands which have a population which is barely 1/1700 th of the country when Dhaka and other parts of the nation still suffer from loadshedding. Rather it is incumbent upon BPDB to reduce their current costs as they are paying over Tk 8500 crore every year to subsidise power from captive power plants.

In a time of great macro economic upheaval there is simply no need to bring power to some scenic islands when the rest of the nation is suffering from an inadequate power distribution system. Rather BPDB should be more rational in expenditure during this pandemic situation as the money can be put to greater use.

And it's not true that these islands don't have electricity now. The largest wind power station in Bangladesh is located in Kutubdia Island. About 1,000-kilowatt power plants have been set up there. So at least one of the four islands has a good source of power which is one eighth to one tenth of the total power which is expected to be newly generated while the others run on diesel or solar power. Why then is a newly generated system needed for the same islands? These frivolous expenditures must be stopped.