Power sector development crucial

S A Mansoor/Financial Express July 21, 2012

The fate of the proposed 1320 MW coal-fired power plant in southern Bangladesh, is now stuck up in the environment clearance rigmarole. This is certainly not helping power-starved Bangladesh. The western world both in Europe and USA have been merrily generating electric power from coal-burning plants satisfying the environment needs. The same is the situation in India where environment issues do not derail their quest for additional coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, interested quarters in Bangladesh are exploiting all avenues in order to block and stop coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh.

This will bring an unnecessary additional reason for our economic slavery; hindering and delaying normal development and industrialisation in Bangladesh because of our chronic shortage of electricity that has been restraining our march ahead to economic independence.

To the environmentalists, the Sundarban’s ecology with its fauna and flora, is more important than the economic growth of the country. They are finding all ways and means, to stop power generation from coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile ironically, we have just discovered possibility of more coal that can be extracted.

This too is being opposed in the name of environment pollution. On the other hand no one bothers about water pollution, poor sanitation, which are now becoming a common rural as well as urban phenomenon. No pressure is being created to reduce or eliminate this unhygienic health hazard that is escalating day by day as our population is growing in an unrestrained manner. There is no public opposition to the government move to contain this important matter, which is a deterrent to the health of the nation.

Having nothing worthwhile or constructive to do, we now have the “Poribesh Andolon” that is out to stop our much needed coal-fired power plant using local coal as the energy raw material. That unfortunately seems to be their only agenda now. They are not bothered by the dirty and dilapidated waterlogged roads all over the country, nor with the refuse and sewage overflowing open drains, the growing poverty and poor hygienic environment and the mushrooming dirty slums (bustees) in the urban areas that spread diseases and sickness across the country. They have no time or energy to develop public awareness on these critical issues, nor to help out in resolving these important issues. Their only subject of interest is ‘environment’.

In a sense, one feels that they are an economic ‘Fifth Column” (inner enemy) that does not desire the country from having electric power from local fuel resources that can lead us forward towards industrial and economic progress. Mass poverty, sickness and unhygienic condition of most Bangladeshis they seem to accept, while they band around with their dogma of ‘environment purity.’ We should all be realistic and pragmatic. In our overall national interest, we should encourage the country to utilise all our fuel resources of coal, as well as to go for more natural gas exploration for rapidly overcoming our power shortfall which can usher in an era of economic prosperity, providing the much-needed financial and material resources to overcome our acute shortfall of health and hygiene-related problems. All this is needed for the overall development and well-being of the nation.

The writer is a retired engineer with years of experience in the power sector. sam@dhakacom.com