Power restored as Bangladesh struggles to fix grid

  • AP, Dhaka
  • Updated: Nov 02, 2014 09:38 IST

Power was restored in most of Bangladesh on Sunday, a day after the impoverished, energy-starved nation was plunged into a nationwide blackout when a transmission line from neighboring India failed, officials said.

The blackout was the country's worst since a 2007 cyclone knocked out the national grid for several hours, and again exposed inefficient and dated infrastructure that has held back development in the South Asian nation.

Electricity was cut across Bangladesh at around noon Saturday after the transmission line experienced a "technical glitch" that led to a cascade of failures throughout the national power grid, with power plants and substations shutting down, said Masum-Al-Beruni, managing director of the state-run Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Ltd.

After an evening spent in the dark, most of the residents of Dhaka, the capital of more than 10 million people, got electricity back on by 1 a.m. Sunday, said Mohammad Nasir Uddin, a control room official of the Dhaka Power Distribution Co. Power was restored in other major cities too, but it was not clear how many people were still without electricity.

Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy adviser to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said late Saturday that he expected the supply would be back to normal by Sunday afternoon.

Dhaka's hospitals and the international airport continued to operate after the blackout Saturday with emergency generators. But many offices normally open had to send their employees home.

"This is terrible," said Mohammad Hasan, a resident of Dhaka's upscale Bashundhara neighborhood. "We had some confidence in the government over last few years that the power sector was improving slowly. But what is this?"

Bangladesh is considered one of the most energy-poor nations, with one of the lowest per capita electricity consumption rates in the world. More than a third of Bangladesh's 166 million people still have no access to electricity, while the country often is able to produce only some of its 11,500-megawatt generation capacity.

Power outages blamed on old grid infrastructure and poor management are common in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has tried to improve its energy situation, extending access to electricity to about 3.45 million more people since 2008. Last year, it started to import electricity from India through the 400-kilovolt transmission line, which runs from Baharampur in the Indian state of West Bengal to the town of Bheramara in southwestern Bangladesh.

It also has signed agreements with energy companies in Russia, Japan, China and the United States to build power plants and improve energy infrastructure.

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