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Severe power shortage hits three South Asian nations

Apr 22, 2009 - Xinhua

HONG KONG - Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan are facing serious electricity shortage which has severely disrupted their public life and worsened their economic crisis.

As the summer is approaching to its peak with temperature hovers around 37 to 40 Celsius degree, the power crisis amid heat wave makes public life harder in the countries.

In Bangladesh, there is a big gap between escalating demand and generation capacity of around 1,500 megawatts.

Frequent disruption of power, 15-16 times a day, also impedes smooth supply of water and gas for household work. Most people were seen on streets with hand fans as electricity goes off at night.

Schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, private offices, apartment buildings, small mills and factories are also experiencing the same plight of the power shortage.

Power deficit is not a new problem in Bangladesh. Dhaka Electric Supply Company limited Managing Director Saleh Admed said on Tuesday that there is no alternate option but to augment generation to resolve nagging power crisis.

Meanwhile, Nepal is also afflicting with power blackouts and rationing. Normally, there is daily 16-hour load-shedding in the country.

The Nepali residents will have to continue to live in dark for many more years to come, as the country failed in the past to construct power projects in accordance with the increasing demand for power supply across the country.

Power consumption increases by 10 percent or around 60 megawatts every year but as attention was not given to the increasing demand, there is a deficit of around 70 to 170 megawatts power in the country.

Another factor for the power shortage is the unusual low water levels in the reservoirs that feed the country's hydroelectric plants, said officials with the Nepal Electrical Authority.

Nepal normally produces about half of its own electricity needs and imports the rest from India. But the low reservoir levels mean that even importing more hydro power will not make up the shortfall, officials said.

The Nepali Ministry of Water Resources has proposed that the government itself should be actively involved in hydropower generation from the coming fiscal year so as to tackle the ever- worsening power shortage in the country.

Pakistan is battling power shortages too. Power cuts currently range from two to 12 hours daily across the country.

Pakistan is switching to daylight saving time to help reduce the effects of a power shortage. On April 15, Pakistan government decided to move the clock forward by one hour aimed at saving around 250 megawatts of electricity per day.

The country is facing a massive shortfall of 4,000 megawatts of power, forcing the government to practice load-shedding around the country.

Critics have accused the previous administration of failing to add any capacity to generate electricity while demand soared.

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