Bangladesh's power utility says can't meet power needs

Bangladesh's power utility said it was unable to keep up with demand for electricity.

Bangladesh's power utility says can't meet power needs

Bangladesh's power utility said on Monday it was unable to keep up with demand for electricity after farmers, women and students staged weekend protests against power cuts disrupting industry and households.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised before and after her December 2008 election win to improve power supplies.

She says the shortages are the result of years of inaction by her predecessors, including the 2001-2006 government of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia and a more recent two-year, army-backed interim government.

"We cannot cope with demand for electricity, rising by 10 percent a year," Saiful Islam, a director of the state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board, said by telephone.

"We are in a difficult cycle. We cannot produce electricity without gas and we cannot run factories without electricity. Authorities are trying hard to overcome the shortages, but this is not possible overnight."

Bangladesh produces up to 3,900 megawatts of electricity a day, Islam said, 1,400 short of demand. The water and sewage authority says it is supplying 1.95 billion litres of water to Dhaka's 11 million residents, against demand of 2.2 billion.

Farmers at the weekend, unable to run machinery or irrigate their crops, tried to break into a utility office in the northern rice-growing Rajshahi district.

Women and children, angry that they cannot perform household tasks or complete schoolwork, waved empty pitchers, lanterns and other utensils in protests in the capital Dhaka and other towns.

The government, led by the Awami League, has ordered two-hour rotating power cuts each evening but residents say outages are occuring more often and lasting longer. Businesses and plants have cut back on working hours and shopping malls have closed.

"Hasina has failed to keep her promises made to the nation, rather her government spent its time on persecuting political rivals and piling up on falsehood," said Khandker Delwar, a senior leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Mart 2010, 14:27

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