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23.04 pc power tariff hike for irrigation proposed

This is totally anti-people, anti-agri proposition, say rights group

By STAFF REPORTER
07th-Mar-2014       
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Rural Electrification Board (REB) has proposed 23.04 percent increase in the electricity tariff for irrigation.   As per the REB proposal, tariff of each unit of electricity for irrigation will go up to Tk 4.70 from existing Tk 3.39-Tk 3.96.   
The technical evaluation committee of Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) did not find any logic for huge rise in the REB tariff. Analysing the REB proposal, it recommended only a 3.48 percent increase in the average tariff.  
Observing lot of anomalies in the REB proposal, BERC member Md Maksudul Haque termed it a hotchpotch and warned the top management of the organisation not to make a mockery in making its price-hike proposal in future.  "You must do proper homework, and put correct information and figures while placing a proposal," he told the REB top executives present at the public hearing.   
Participants taking part in the hearing from political parties, social organisations, consumer rights groups, business bodies and individual experts sharply critcised the REB proposal, particularly the raising of 23.04 percent price of electricity to be used in the irrigation.  
 "This is totally an anti-people and anti-agriculture proposition. This will hit hard the farmers who supply our foods," said Ruhin Hossain Prince of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB).    Nagorik Oikya leader Iftekhar Ahmed said the government will not get any exit route if the mass people get annoyed with the hazards of power tariff hike.   He questioned the REB's justification of proposing tariff-hike, saying that the organisation does not have any investment. "So, how could it count its loss or profit," Iftekhar said.   
Gano Sanghati Andolon leader Jonayed Saki said the power production cost is going up because of 'wrong strategies and policies' of the government. -
The overall power tariff of REB was proposed to be raised by average 12.58 percent. The proposal was placed by the organisation, entrusted with distribution of electricity in the rural areas, at the public hearing of (BREC) which concluded its 3-day hearing on Thursday.  
Making a presentation in favour of the tariff-hike proposal, REB chairman Brig Gen Moin Uddin said the operation cost of his organisation has increased to a great extent because of old transmission lines that resulted in huge system loss.   "Unless the (power) tariff is enhanced, REB can't go for taking up new development projects to improve its system," he said at the public hearing.    Making his concluding remarks, BERC chairman AR Khan dropped an indication of "win-win position" for the consumers and the power entities saying that the power generation has increased significantly, but generation cost has also gone up.  
 "The government has limitations as it could not succeed in reducing the production cost," he added.   But the regulatory body chief hoped that the power tariff would be gradually coming down in near future.  
However, the top energy watchdog did not pass any order on the proposals of the five state-owned power distribution companies, which it heard in last three days. But a source close to BERC said, DPDC required 23.50 percent hike while the BERC recommended 6.03 percent. The DESCO sought 15.90 percent against the BERC's recommendation for 2.01 percent, PDB sought 15.50 percent against 6.66 percent, the West Zone Power Distribution Company sought 8.59 percent against 7.51 percent and REB sought 12.58 percent against 3.48 percent.
The technical evaluation committee of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) recommended for power tariff hike by 5.13 percent on an average for five power distribution companies, the sources added.

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