Industrial units, power plants to get priority
The government has prioritised giving new gas connections to factories, power stations and fertiliser producers, according to an office order issued by the power, energy and mineral resources ministry. Even with liquefied natural gas (LNG) commissioned into the national grid last year, the government is not yet ready to relax its tight control on giving new gas connections to households, the office order revealed. The order, signed by power ministry deputy secretary Akramuzzaman, said gas connections to captive power stations should be discouraged as the current power production capacity of the government had increased by manifold and there was no need for captive power stations.
The ministry order also said that new gas connections to CNG stations should be withheld, as autogas had appeared as a good alternative to CNG and hence there was no need for CNG as vehicle fuel. As for not giving any new connections to households, the office order since said the availability of LPG had become widespread across the country and the price of LPG had been reduced, there is no need for new gas connections to households
The government order, however, sais hospitals, educational institutions and jails would be given priority in giving gas connections. Talking to The Independent, Nasrul Haimd, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, said the government was giving precedence to factories for getting new gas connections. “There is no need for new gas connections to households now,” he added.
Earlier this year, a high-powered committee, chaired by Dr Tawfique-e-Elahi Chowdhury, energy advisor to the Prime Minister, had decided that no new gas connections would be given to households. According to sources aware of what tran
spired in the meeting, the energy advisor to the Prime Minister had stressed giving gas connections from January next year to factories whose applications were approved earlier by the high-powered committee of the PM’s office.
The committee has so far approved applications of over 2,600 new gas connections, with another 700 applications in the pipeline.
The sources said gas connections would be given to industrial units on a priority basis.
Factories located inside economic zones and the ones that are export-oriented would be given priority.
Citing reasons behind the government’s tight-fisted policy in laying out new connections, a senior government official, who preferred anonymity, told The Independent that the current gas supply to the gridline was 3,760 mmcf (million cubic feet), with LNG amounting just 20 mmcf.
If connections are to be given to all the industrial units whose applications have been approved, a gas supply of over 5,000 mmcf would be needed, which, in the current context, is not possible to implement within a short time.
In April this year, Nasrul Hamid said that the government would consider some of the household applications for gas connections that had been pending for several years. However, the much-talked-about issue of household gas connections had not been discussed at length at the high-level meeting.
According to sources, it was simply decided that no new gas connections would be given to households anytime soon.
Over 48 per cent of the total gas produced in the country is now being used for generating electricity. Besides, 15 per cent of the gas is being used in CNG and fertiliser factories. The gas supposed to be used in industrial units is now being used in other sectors. The demand for gas has also increased sharply because a large number of garments factories—mostly located in shared buildings—cannot relocate their units to newer destinations due to lack of gas connections.