No utility service for random industrial units

The power and energy ministry has decided not to give electricity and gas connections to any industrial units set up outside planned industrial zones, officials of the energy division said.

The decision came after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a directive to protect the country's agricultural land.

The officials said they will now supply electricity and gas to the new industries set up only in planned industrial zones.

Sources said a huge amount of agricultural land is being destroyed in the country for setting up industrial units beyond planned areas. 

They said the government is going to enact a new law to discourage unplanned industrialisation that may harm farmlands and environment.

According to power division, there are around 2.30 lakh electricity connections for industries across the country -- 4,905 of them in planned industrial areas.

Electricity is being supplied to everyone through the same distribution line. There are double distribution lines for a few factories somewhere. 

If industrial establishments are set up in certain areas, infrastructure will be constructed to supply electricity to them separately. It is being considered to provide electricity connection in N-minus one process for industrial establishments in the planned area. In this method, if one distribution line is switched off, another distribution line will automatically start to supply of electricity.

A meeting presided over by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was held on October 20 last year. At the meeting, the Prime Minister directed the authorities concerned to discourage industrial factories in unplanned areas. Moreover, decisions were also made not to give gas and electricity facility in unplanned areas. On January 12, the Prime Minister's directives were conveyed by a letter to various organizations regarding this issue.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid also said, the government will ensure uninterrupted gas and electricity supply at affordable price for the industrialists in schematic industrial zones.

The minister called upon industrialists to invest in the Economic Zones. He said at a meeting recently, “Industrialists establish factories in unplanned ways overnight destroying crops and ask for gas and electricity supply. It poses a real problem.” 

“Gas and electricity can’t be availed of this way. If anyone wants to have uninterrupted gas and electricity he/she must build his/her factory in industrial areas only,” he added.

The government is now paying more attention in building industrial establishments in the planned areas. Tanneries were running their business for years at Hazaribagh in Dhaka. But all the tanneries were shifted to Savar. The government has long-term plans to shift the pharmaceutical, chemical and other industries as well to the designated places gradually.

Bangladesh Investment Development Authorities (BIDA) has decided to prohibit establishment of factories outside the industrial and economic zones under the new law.

In the second meeting of the BIDA's governing body, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid on Thursday proposed to halt unplanned industrialisation.

The government wants to transfer factories in industrial zones. But there are some challenges. Gas and electricity connection cost is high due to infrastructure problem. Besides, there is a risk of theft and systems loss. The major challenge is the actual amount of gas and electricity to be known. So, it is sometimes difficult to provide uninterrupted gas and electricity to the factory owners.

According to directive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, state-owned Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) was formed in 2010 to establish 100 economic zones by 2030. On the other hand, there are around 80 BSCIC industrial parks under Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation for small and medium enterprises in the country where around 6,000 industries are available.

The country is now generating surplus of electricity. On the other hand the gas demand is increasing rapidly due to industrial and socio-economic development, which will reach 10,000mmcfd in 2041. However the domestic gas is depleting. In this situation, the government is planning to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG). Besides, gas exploration activities will continue in onshore and offshore, according to energy division official.