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Crises in gas and power supply

          With the hot summer around the corner, the country has been again experiencing the familiar set of symptoms that affect public life as well as production in the industries severely. The name of the perennial crisis is load-shedding. The country went through another spell of acute load-shedding Wednesday last as some four generation units in Ghorasal and Siddhirganj power plants under the Power Development Board (PDB) -- the body responsible for providing countrymen with energy in the form of electricity -- remained closed, while another in Siddhirganj operated far below its capacity. The PDB was forced to shed its supply of power to the consumers nationwide when they need it most -- that is, during the peak hours.
It is of no use narrating how people suffered as a consequence of the last load-shedding of huge proportions Wednesday, for the consumers in general are not just used to, rather quite attuned to this day-to-day scourge in their lives in the form of load-shedding and power outage. In most of the cases, those happen as a result of problem in the distribution line, which, more often than not, has to do with distribution or management at the suppliers' end. But Wednesday's case of load-shedding was not exactly a run of the mill experience in the sense that the power failed to reach the consumers as it should have as it could not be generated at all. And for that reason the PDB was not wholly to blame for the crisis, since gas -- the fuel that fires the generators in some 16 power production units of PDB -- was in short supply. As said earlier, the Ghorasal and Siddhirganj plants bore the brunt of that shortage in gas supply. So, both the authorities -- who are in charge of supplying gas to the power plants and those in charge of providing electricity -- are to shoulder the responsibility in tandem for their failure to deliver the goods. At the consumers end, on the other hand, the problem has multiplied in magnitude as well as in form.
How should then the victims of the situation name the problem? Gas crisis or power crisis or a new description for it such as 'gas-power' crisis? As they are going through no end of crises day in, day out, they are often compelled to bear the suffering in good humour and even eager to escape the reality by way of new names tagged to their sources of torment. The last experienced load-shedding, which amounted to between 350 and 400 megawatts, was caused as Petrobangla -- the body that is supposed make the gas available at the users' end at the power plants -- failed to supply some 150 million cubic feet of gas(mmcfd) out of the total need of 650 mmcfd to the gas-fired power generation units of PDB. The reason for the shortage in supply is yet not clear to the public: was it due to any problem of distribution in the supply line or was it attributable to something at the source of gas production?
If the root cause of the gas problem, like the one affecting power transmission, lies, again, at the source, then it has certainly a cause for sending shivers down the spine of all concerned. For, there are already reports in the press and speculations going the rounds over the spectre of impending gas crunch in the foreseeable future. In that case, the authorities will need to rethink the whole idea of gas as fuel for the power plants and shift to other alternatives before it is too late. The issue needs an urgent attention of the authorities if only for the reason that electricity as a form of energy to satisfy human need is going to outlive fossil energy which is depleting fast globally.


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