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Monday, August 21, 2006

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Diesel consumption rises by 30pc due to drought in N region
Shakhawat Hossain
8/21/2006
 

          The consumption of diesel in the country has gone up by around 30 per cent over the last couple of weeks, mainly because of the prevailing drought-like situation in the country's northern region.
"The average daily diesel consumption during this period of the year has been around 5500 tonnes. But the consumption shot up to more than 7000 tonnes for the last couple of weeks," said a senior energy division official.
The official attributed the additional demand to lack of adequate rainfall during the peak monsoon days this year. He said a near-drought situation has forced millions of farmers in the northern region to irrigate their fields with diesel run pumps for transplantation of aman seedlings.
Aman, one of the country's major crops, constitutes almost 39 per cent of the country's cereal output.
The Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) that has been struggling for the last one year to ensure import of fuel oils in adequate quantities due to fund problem is expecting a further rise in demand for diesel in the coming days, the official added.
Additional consumption has already put extra pressure on the country's existing diesel stock of 60,000 tonnes. With more 60,000 tonnes of diesel are in pipeline, the entire stock would last until middle of November next.
Taking stock of the prevailing situation, the BPC has already been directed to impose restriction on supply of diesel.
The energy division fears that the vested quarters would indulge in smuggling of diesel to neighbouring India taking advantage of the prevailing drought-like situation.
The neighbouring countries, including India, are also experiencing drought and are selling diesel at much higher rates than that of Bangladesh.
"If the BPC did not impose restriction, the daily demand of diesel would hit 11,000 tonnes," said the official.
Local met office, in the meantime, has no good news for the farmers of the country's northern region. They forecast that there would be no major change in the weather in the next 20 days.
It said the country has experienced 154.9 mm rainfall, 40 per cent less than the average rainfall of 254mm in this period of a normal year.
"Nearly 30 per cent less rainfall for this particular season is acceptable. But anything less than that is sure to create worries among the growers," said a met official.
Over 5.2 million hectares of land have been targeted for Aman cultivation this season, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension.
But due to the prevailing drought, the country's Aman output may face a serious setback.
Poor rains have forced the farmers to use diesel for running pumps for the irrigation activities. But for many marginal farmers, use of diesel-run pumps for irrigation is an impossible thing.
Sources, however, said any setback to the Aman cultivation, the country's second largest crop after Boro, might create serious problem for the next elected government.

 

Sheaves of paddy drying in a field in Munshiganj district. Presently the country is experiencing a drought-like situation in addition to diesel crisis that are causing tubewells to become inoperative. BDNEWS Photo
 
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