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Bangladesh grapples with growing power shortage

By Staff
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DHAKA, Feb 26 (Reuters) A shortfall in the supply of power in Bangladesh has soared to 1,600 megawatt (MW) per day because of problems at big power plants, a power official said today.

Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) is able to generate a record low of 2,200 mw of electricity, compared with demand of 3,800 mw, because big plants tripped one after another due to technical faults, a senior official with the state-run board told Reuters today, asking not to be named.

''The board is trying to gradually restore all the tripping power stations,'' BPDB said in a statement.

BPDB officials said demand in summer -- when the agrarian country needs extra supplies for irrigation -- was expected to rise to 5,000 mw.

Last year, average demand for electricity was 4,500 mw and the shortfall was between 800 and 1,100 mw.

Bangladesh's power sector performed poorly in 2005, adding only 80 mw to the national grid. No new plant was set up in the private sector.

Several new plants had been expected to start operations but they all fell behind schedule due to funding and other problems, officials said.

Power officials said the government was still planning to establish 14 new power generation units, including those that failed to start in 2005, to add nearly 3,000 mw of power to the national grid by end-2007.

Only 30 per cent of the country's 140 million people have access to power.

Demand is set to grow to 8,000 mw a day by 2011, according to official estimates.

REUTERS PR BS1126

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