Professor Rehman Sobhan thinks that the country is being put in financial danger by generating excess electricity. He said a politically powerful group has been formed in the country; Those who have lost control of the energy sector and power generation.
Rehman Sobhan further said that this group is building unnecessary power plants even though it is harming the environment and climate of the country for huge profits. We have to protect the common people of the country from this group. This requires creating political influence.
Rehman Sobhan, chairman of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), made the remarks at the concluding session of a two-day conference on “Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development” on Saturday.
Organized by Bangladesh Environment Movement (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environmental Network (BEN), the conference was attended by environmentalists from home and abroad. A part of the participants in the two-day conference at Stamford University in the capital virtually attended.
In his speech, Rehman Sobhan said that a large part of the ruling class of the country has become a global citizen. They live in developed countries for most of the year. As a result, the damage to the environment and climate change is not a big issue for them. It is an academic subject for them. They do not touch them. The poor and common people of the country are suffering the most due to environmental damage and climate change. These people are becoming big victims of river erosion, occupation and pollution. Therefore, in order to establish environmental and social justice, the voices of these people must be brought into the mainstream of politics.
Rehman Sobhan said that the economic development of the country is being talked about 50 years after independence, but the issue of environmental damage and social justice is not coming to the fore. He said the Prime Minister’s Energy Adviser and the Minister of State for Energy and Power should have come to the conference. Because, they could understand how electricity is being generated and what is happening to the country.
The CPD chairman presented a picture of the transformation of the country’s energy and power sector during the tenure of the present government. He said there was a gap between the demand and supply of electricity in the country when this government came to power. At that time, the Prime Minister has rapidly increased power generation in various ways including quick rental. But now there is no crisis of electricity supply in the country. Now the question is, what kind of electricity is being generated from which sector?
Rehman Sobhan said that the government is taking financial risk and the private sector is taking profit from the power being generated in the country now. Our ready-made garment sector has also survived by competing globally. In that case, he raised the question as to why the power sector still has to be given so many benefits.
In his speech, Rehman Sobhan said, it was once said that the country is floating on gas. But why was the gas not lifted? Now electricity is being generated from all such sources including fuel oil, LNG; Which is being bought from the international market. But the prices of these products have now become volatile, often rising at unusual rates. Geopolitical calculations are being made about the international market of these sources. China, India and Indonesia are advancing economically by creating control over the sources of energy.
Citing the example of Adani, India’s largest industrial conglomerate, Professor Rehman Sobhan said the company had invested heavily in Australia’s coal industry. They are running a power plant in Jharkhand by importing the coal from India. India plans to export that electricity to Bangladesh again. In such an economic reckoning, how will Bangladesh develop its economy by ensuring its energy security?
Nazrul Islam, Ben’s chief coordinator at the conference, said, “Unrestrained and immoral capitalism has been created in Bangladesh. The government adopts a lot of good policies. There is no lack of law and order in the country. But these are all the tricks of Subhankar. Nothing is allowed. So we are saying, there is no benefit in making new laws. Implementation is more urgent. Without good governance and political commitment, it will not benefit the people.
Referring to the proverb ‘Stories don’t listen to religion’, Nazrul Islam said, ‘Those who talk about power generation and become the owners of hundreds of crores of rupees, will not listen to us anymore. Therefore, with the forthcoming elections ahead, we have to fight against the environmentalists who are destroying the environment.
Bapar vice-president and Dhaka University professor Khandaker Bazlul Haque said politics was no longer in the hands of politicians. Businessmen and bureaucrats have taken control of politics. That is why they are doing everything in their own interest, which is harming the environment.
Besides, Kamrul Ahsan Khan, vice-president of Ben, said that in the name of development projects, industrialization and power generation, serious damage to the environment has started in the country. If these are not stopped with urgent initiative, the country will be doomed.
The concluding session was conducted by Bapar General Secretary Sharif Jamil.