Bangladesh achieved tremendous success in ensuring electricity across the country as the political commitment of the Awami League (AL) government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reached the electricity to 99.75% people from less than 15% in 50 years of independence. Power division officials said less than 15% of people inherited electricity coverage after independence while it was 47% in 2009. After coming to the power for the second term in 2008, the AL government dreamed of electrifying every household in the country. AL’s that dream prompted them to take huge initiatives for the development of the power and energy sector, covering 99.75% people with the electricity, the officials said.
In 2009, the power generation capacity of the country was 4,942 MW which now has increased to 25,235 MW. The announcement of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina 12 years ago to ensure 100% electricity for all people seemed to be a dream, but, the power division under its state minister Nasrul Hamid almost achieved the target. The worthy daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman has been able to make incredible development in the power and energy sector in the way shown by her father, taking various initiatives for the power sector in the last 12 years. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman also had undertaken various initiatives to develop the country’s energy sector soon after the independence.
A historic decision by Bangabandhu had pushed the country to start a journey for ensuring energy security after Bangladesh was liberated. “August 9, 1975 was the historic day for the country as Bangabandhu purchased five gas fields from a multinational oil drilling company, Shell Oil Company, paying very little,” State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid told today. He said only 4.5 million pound sterling (Tk. 17-18 crore of that period) was paid to get Bakhrabad, Titas, Rashidpur, Kailashtila and Habiganj gas fields state-owned. Talking to the media, Energy expert and International Energy Consultant Khondkar Abdus Saleque Sufi said Bangabandhu believed that a sustainable self-reliant energy sector would be essential for the economic emancipation of the country. “With the creation of BOGMC (Later BOGC and BMDC), BPDB and BWDB were the outcomes of his (Bangabandhu) extensive home works,” he said.
Bangabandhu’s vision was to explore and leverage petroleum and mineral resources by what in his term “Golden Sons of Golden Bengal,” he added. The expert said now Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter and visionary leader of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been working relentlessly to ensure the country’s power and energy security by fulfilling her father’s dream. The Father of the Nation nationalised five major gas fields from IOC, started commencement of offshore exploration of petroleum and engaged his advisors for development of the sector, Sufi said.
Since 2010, the government has been observing August 9 as the National Energy Security Day. AL government’s lone effort leads the dream of ensuring electricity in all areas of the country into the reality as envisioned by Father of Nation. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is committed to ensuring electricity for all within 2021 as Bangladesh is celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman coinciding with the 50 years of independence. Bangladesh is now very close to fulfilling the prime minister’s commitment.
Talking to the media, Director General of Power Cell Engineer Mohammad Hossain said Bangladesh is now very close to ensuring electricity for all and within the ‘Mujib Year’, the country will be able to achieve the target. “At first, I want to remember the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who identified the power sector as a priority for the country’s economic emancipation,” he added. According to the ministry, initially, Bangabandhu started works of coal and hard rock mining, setting up power plants at Ashuganj, Ghorashal and Siddhirganj, arranging training for human capital in Algeria and Indonesia, concluding agreements with the then Soviet Union, Germany for energy and power sector development from 10 January 1972 to August 15, 1975.
According to power cell data, currently, the power connections increased to 4.14 crore households which were only 1.80 crores in 2009. Now, the number of power plants reached 146 from only 27 in 2009. In 1996, coming to the power, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took several initiatives to increase power generation capacity. Several organizations were formed by dividing PDB for creating competition among those aimed at reducing the system loss. In 2001, the power generation capacity was 4,300 MW. But, in the same year, the BNP-Jamaat came to the power and in 2009, the power generation capacity was reduced to 3,200 MW.
The state minister said the government has already taken all sorts of initiatives, including installation of home solar systems and other renewable electricity generation, to provide electricity facilities to the rest of the remote areas which are out of electricity coverage. Earlier, the Chairman of the Khagrachari Hill District Council Mongsueprou Chowdhury told the media that development is visible in every spare of life among the hilly people as tremendous development works are being done in the three hilly districts, Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban.
As part of the global campaign to expand renewable energy side by side reduction of greenhouse gas, the government has been encouraging power generation from renewable sources. Now the country is generating 730.62 MW of electricity from renewable energy sources with the installation of 60 lakh Solar Home Systems (SHSs) across the country. The renewable energy production capacity is 730.32 MW under the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), of which 496.39 MW comes from solar power. The government has brought two crore marginal people under electricity coverage through Solar Home System. In the context of the government campaign for expansion and installation of renewable energy sources in the country, the ratio of renewable energy sources will be 40% in power generation in future.