By- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury | Date- April 07, 2012
Power failure is now a regular phenomenon in Bangladesh, where the ruling party made specific pre-electoral pledges to the voters of greatly resolving the crisis within the first two years of being in the office. But, reality speaks something else! The current government of Bangladesh Awami League, which leads coalitions of Islamists, leftists and former dictators has greatly failed in addressing large number of national issues, including controlling the prices of essentials, maintaining the law and order situation, getting proper share of water in various rivers from India, stopping campus violence (which are mostly committed by the members of the student front of the ruling party), ensuring rights of the religious minorities, combating terrorism, rape, murder and extortion (again mostly committed by the members of the ruling party) etc.
In brief, this is a worst form of failed governance by Bangladesh Awami League since the creation of the country in 1971. While lives of people have already fallen into the ditch of severe sufferings due to series of adversities, the ruling party, instead of making genuine attempts of resolving the same as rather seen engaged in making fun of people’s agonies as well as continuing limitless looting of public wealth by letting bunch of pro-ruling party looters robbing off billions of dollars from the national exchequer by installing questioned projects such as rental-power stations as well as making false billings from the private owned power plants in the country. At the same time, instead of endorsing people’s sufferings and giving any specific description of government steps in resolving the power crisis, the Prime Minister is making mockery and joke with the entire nation right inside the National Parliament, where she said, load shedding were continuing in the country to remind people about the shortage of power.
Members of the cabinet as well as talkative figures in the ruling party are equally engaged in giving irritating statements possibly with the mission of hiding the huge failures of Bangladesh Awami League in resolving the power crisis, which not only causes acute sufferings to the citizen of Bangladesh, but also are already putting country’s industrial sectors into mere devastation. Foreign investors are no more eyeing on Bangladesh due to two major reasons – one of which is acute power crisis, while next is a total lawlessness in Bangladesh. Members of the youth and student fronts of the Bangladesh Awami League are continuing various forms of illegal activities in such open manner as if they are licensed to commit crime. Law enforcing agencies are either afraid or shy in taking any steps against such notoriety of the ruling party inmates, as any such actions by the law enforcing agencies would only invite dire consequences in his/her service life.
Nuke power and hazards for the civilians
As a bid to resolve the existing acute power crisis in Bangladesh, the ruling party has signed an agreement with Russian Federation for establishment of 2000 mega watt nuclear-based power plant in the country. Experts feel, there are several risks associated with nuclear power plants. The most serious is the question of nuclear waste. Using nuclear power generates radioactive waste which will be radioactive for thousands and thousands of years. Storing such wastes in such safest method, where humans and plants will not be affected is the biggest challenge, because such wastes cause dangerous radiation.
The storage of the waste is an extremely difficult problem to solve, both on a technological and scientific level, but also on a political level. Currently, all the nuclear waste generated by humans on earth is stored in temporary sites. This temporary solution will not be acceptable in the long term. The other major effect of nuclear reactors on the environment is that they need water to cool them. They are often built near a river for this reason. Because the water is used to cool them, that means the water is being heated by the plant. This can raise the average temperature of the water in the river. Changing the temperature of the water can have a very serious and detrimental effect on fish and other organisms living in the river.
India dumping nuclear waste in Bangladesh
India now envisages increasing the contribution of nuclear power to overall electricity generation capacity from 2.8% to 9% within 25 years. By 2017, India’s installed nuclear power generation capacity will increase to 10,080 MW. As of 2009, India stands 9th in the world in terms of number of operational nuclear power reactors. Indigenous atomic reactors include TAPS-3, and -4, both of which are 540 MW reactors. India’s US$ 717 million fast breeder reactor project is expected to be operational by 2012-13.
Each year thousands of tons of nuclear wastes are released from the nuclear power plants, dumping of which is one of the biggest challenges. Since 2001, India has started exporting its nuclear wastes by mixing the same with ash from the thermal power stations. Bangladeshi cement manufacturers alone imports more than five hundred thousand tons of fly ash from India and produces fly ash mixed cement.
The whole concept was first initiated by a company named Holcim, which later successfully infected the idea into the brains of other cement manufacturers in Bangladesh. Through such notorious steps of Holcim and subsequently by other cement manufacturers in Bangladesh, most of the newly constructed domestic and commercial buildings in the country are now becoming slightly or significantly polluted with nuclear contamination, which not only poses huge threat to human lives but also puts substantial threat to the very environment of the country. India also is exporting its nuclear wastes to some other neighboring nations as well as countries in the African continent as well as in the Middle East either by mixing with thermal-power plant generated ashes or with other chemical compounds.
Energy price increase crossed all past records
During the three plus years of rule of the Bangladesh Awami League led leftist, Islamist and former autocrat coalitions government, the increase of fuel as well as energy in Bangladesh has crossed all previous records, while there even had been multiple increases simply within the span of a month. The rulers are trying to convince people stating such increase were necessary to cope with the increase in prices of fuel in the international market, it is clearly understood that such increases were necessary to cope with the huge pressure on country’s economy as well as foreign currency reserve as billions of dollars are rather wasted on feeding the quick-rental power plants as well as those power companies, who are making fortune by virtually robbing such public money through false billings in connivance with some corrupt officials as well as unscrupulous political figures.
Due to such mad increase in prices of fuel and energy, cost of living has greatly increased in Bangladesh, though income never increased in comparing to the degree of such exorbitant increase in the prices of fuel and energy. At the same time, country’s economy is also under huge pressure due to decrease in foreign currency earning as labor market for Bangladeshi workers is shrinking fast, again due to inefficiency of the ministry and departments concerned. There had not been any mentionable foreign investment in the country for past five plus years, as political instability, power crisis, terrorism and massive corruption stood as barriers, where foreign investors are no more considering Bangladesh as a potential ground for their investments.
Though the only good news of these series of bad news is, Bangladesh may now become important ground for many petroleum exploration companies in the world, after the recent resolution of maritime boundary dispute with Myanmar, though many feel that the real result would only be possible if Bangladesh could also settle the dispute with India. The ruling party in Bangladesh is trying their best in portraying the recent resolution of maritime boundary with Myanmar as Sea Victory, which political analysts see as mere political stunt of Bangladesh Awami League, which is badly suffering from series of its failures only during past three past years.
Freedom of media and expression
For the current government in Dhaka, media and public opinion has already become its worst enemies, as the real picture of the failures of the ruling party is clearly portrayed in the media as well as public opinions. The ruling party is trying to apply numerous tricks and policies in somehow suffocating the freedom of expression and rights of the civilians. Opposition parties are regularly obstructed from even peaceful demonstrations against the ruling party and well-planned repressive pogroms are continuing on the political opponents as well as different opinions of the ruling elites in Bangladesh.
Risk of mass revolt
Whenever there is huge repression on civilians as well as attempts of suffocating the freedom of expression and media in any of the nations in the world, there surely is the possibility of outbreak of mass revolt, even in some cases, led by some individual or group, not representing the so-called mainstream parties or groups. In Bangladesh, power crisis is causing huge anger in the minds of the mass people, which is certainly an alarming sign for the rulers.
Currently the average daily load shedding in the rural and urban areas are between 10 to 18 hours. There are indications that such timing may even increase during the month of May and September. Especially the months of May, June, July and August are the hottest summer days in Bangladesh. Political opponents of the ruling party have already picked up the issue of power crisis at the top of their anti-government agendas, which surely is a hugely alarming sign for Bangladesh Awami League. According to political analysts, power crisis is directly affecting the lives of the civilians, where they would voluntarily react and even revolt, if they are given lead by any individual or organization. The analysts also say that the ruling party may use state machinery, law enforcing agencies as well as armed cadres of their youth and student fronts in confronting any such mass revolt, but ultimately it may push the entire nation towards a destination unknown.
According to the analysts, people are already fed up with the increasing sufferings due to load shedding as well as ruthless statements of the ruling elites. Their hidden anger may spark at any time and turn into a huge political inferno for the Bangladesh Awami League. In face of such political eruptions, it will be almost impossible for the ruling party in tackling the situation.
Understanding such political advantageous point, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami as well as minor parties such as Bikalpa Dhara Bangladesh, Khelafat Majlish, Islamic Unity Front, Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan, Bangladesh Jatiyo Party, Islami Oikya Jote, Gono Forum, Bangladesh Kalyan Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Islami Movement Bangladesh, Jatiyo Gonotantrik Party etc have already started bringing the power crisis and load shedding as well as increase in the prices of fuel at top of their political agendas.
It is anticipated by the political pundits that, much ahead of June 12 political deadline set by Begum Khaleda Zia, former Prime Minister and leader of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, political mercury in the country may touch alarming level or even may give birth to any sudden spark in civilian unrest or mass revolt. Sensing this, Bangladesh Nationalist Party is also re-fixing its political strategies against the ruling party and are believed to be planning to begin massive campaign in the country, protesting Bangladesh Awami League led government’s failures in addressing this important problem, which understandably is aimed at mobilizing millions of people towards the June 12 hard line programs of the main opposition party and its alliance partners.
There is no doubt the ruling party will also apply its all out forces in confronting the political programs of the opposition. And of course, if such confrontation will be similar as the past, there is sufficient room to fear any uncertainty in the country, which may not be any good news for the democracy itself.