Narayanganj: Amid the worsening power situation in Bangladesh, some 50,000 battery-run auto-rickshaws continue plying illegally in Narayanganj on pilfered electricity and that too right under the nose of the authorities, reports UNB.
These auto-rickshaws consume electricity mostly via illegal connections available at roadside garages, according to officials of Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC) that supplies alternating current to the five upazilas of the district. At a time when discoms are resorting to rationing of electricity across the country to avert an energy crisis in Bangladesh, the authorities have neither been able to crack down on these battery-run auto-rickshaws nor take action against the garage owners.
If the same estimate is to be believed, each of these auto-rickshaws runs on four to five 12 Volt capacity batteries that cumilatively consume 55 MW of power daily during 5-6 hours of recharge.
A simple calculation will yield the final consumption figure for the 50,000-odd auto-rickshaws -- not to mention that the power pilferage cause a loss to the exchequer.
In 2018, the discom and a task force in separate drives snapped illegal power connections and penalised 50 garages. That was the last such mega drive.
However, Mohammad Main Uddin, the executive engineer of DPDC's Fatullah zone, said, “We regularly conduct such drives against illegal power users and it is a continuous process." Battery-run auto-rickshaw drivers, on the other hand, said that they would have to endure hardships in case of a crackdown.
"It will be really difficult for me to manage two square meals a day in such a scenario," said Md Rahman, an auto-rickshaw driver in the district town. "The government should think of giving us alternative employment before strictly enforcing such a ban."
Not all are willing to buy the arguments.
Mizanur Rahman, deputy general manager of Polly Bidyut, said that drives against illegal power users should pick up now "as we consider such use as waste of power".
"Not only the source of pilfered electricity, the government should take strict action against the operators of these battery-run auto-rickshaws," he said.