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Acute gas crisis hits Tongi, Gazipur industrial belt

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Anisul Islam Noor :
The industrial production in Tongi-Gazipur belt has been affected due to acute gas crisis as Petrobangla diverting of gas to upstream power plants, industrialists and Businessmen alleged.
Following gas crisis many manufacturing industries have been suffering due to damaged material or defect in product's quality. To avert such damage, the industry will be forced to shut down, said Ariful Haque, owner of dyeing factory in Gazipur.
Factories in the industrial belt are now operating at one-third of their capacity, which may lead to labour unrest and default of huge sum of bank loans," owner of a ceramics industry said.
Such disruption of production, he cautions, may even cause sudden shutdown of factories.
Concerned officials of Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company Limited (TGTDCL), however, blamed the Petrobangla for gas crunch.

Concerned people said, if the gas crisis or low pressure of gas with poor electricity voltage is being continued for three to four months in the industrial belt, manufacture oriented industries would suffered immensely with poor electricity voltage. It often causes for huge volume of industrial wastage and reduction of production efficiency.
The industry insiders said, a factory in the belt requires 04 PSI (production per square inch) as optimum gas pressure but the pressure, at times, comes down to as low as 0.1 PSI, these days especially during the daytime.   "Gas pressure in the area becomes normal around 10pm/11pm and stays for not more than 08 hours until 6am/7am," an entrepreneur of the industrial belt informed.
Asked, an official of Titas said they are at present getting nearly 250 million cubic meters (MCM) less in recent weeks against their current demand of 1,800 MCM gas in Titas franchise.
The downstream Titas franchise area covers greater Dhaka region, which includes Gazipur alongside some other adjoining districts, and greater Mymensingh, he said.
A Petrobangla source said gas supply on priority basis to a number of upstream projects including power plants as reason behind supply shortage.
When asked, Managing Director of Akij Group Sk. Bashir Uddin termed the situation 'really worrisome.'
According to him, two of Akij Group companies situated in the area Akij Printing & Packages Limited and Dhaka Tobacco Industries jointly contributed nearly Tk 35 billion (3,500 crore) to the national exchequer in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
"But we are very much worried about our industrial output this year as production disruption following the twin crises involving gas supply and power supply. Both will eventually disrupt our retail business in every phase," he quipped.
This often results in a high rate of industrial wastage and reduction of production efficiency, he added.
Bangladesh Auto Re-rolling Steel Mills & Association Chairman Manwar Hossain, who is also Anwar Group Managing Director, echoed the same concern.
The businessman, who has a steel factory called Anwar Ispat Limited in the industrial belt, called for immediate introduction of ECM (Electronically Controlled Meters) to check unabated gas engineering in the area, which he deems to be yet another reason for gas supply crunch.
Titas officials, according to him, are encouraging co-generation scheme to help address the severe gas crisis. But he said co-generation will require stable and smooth gas supply.
Government should ensure at least 10-15 years of smooth gas supply to encourage co-generation as, what he said, any industrial investment requires 20 years of payback period.
TGTDCL Deputy Managing Director Engineer Abdul Wahab Talukdar, who is also the Project Director of Sripur-Joydevpur Transmission Pipeline Project, said, "We cannot do anything to address the crisis if there is a lack of adequate gas supply."
He also admitted that priority-based power plants' gas supply being the reason behind the current spell of gas crunch.
Local sources alleged, illegal and unapproved gas connections in various industries in and around the zone are also affecting gas supply badly, among other reasons.

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