Power Div asks shops to close down by 8 pm
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

The Power Division on Tuesday asked all shops across the country, except those selling food items, medicine and emergency supplies, to follow a government rule to close down their daily business by 8:00pm so that additional electricity could be supplied for irrigation.

'We have decided to enforce the existing government rule on the closure of shops by 8:00pm from today to save electricity, so that we can supply it for irrigation during the ongoing Boro season,' M Tamim, special adviser to the chief adviser, told reporters on Tuesday after a meeting with leaders of shop owners' associations.

The Power Division decided to enforce Section 114 (3) of the Labour Act 2006 that says that all shops, with some exceptions, will close down their daily business by 8:00pm to save around 200-400 MW of electricity for facilitating operation of irrigation pumps in the evening peak hours.

The shops, which have been exempted from closure in the evening, are shops at dockyards, rail stations and airports, medicine stores, kitchen markets, fruit and vegetable shops, restaurants and food shops, retail shops for tobacco, cigarette, betel leaf, Bidi, ice and newspaper and barber shops.

'We have agreed, without much opposition, with the government's decision to have our businesses closed down by 8:00pm. But the earlier evening ban on shops was not successful in supplying enough power for irrigation and in reducing load-shedding,' president of the Dhaka Metropolitan Shop Owners' Association, Md Helaluddin, told reporters after the meeting.

Tamim, however, said that it was not true that the closure of shops would not be helpful for agriculture and that the earlier ban did not yield any fruits. 'Around 300 MW of electricity can be saved if the shops remain closed after 8:00pm. As irrigation is our prime priority, this saving of electricity will help Boro cultivation and reduce shortage of food-grains.

Besides, the earlier ban on shops certainly helped to ease the power crisis,' he said. The Power Division estimated that around 1,000 MW of additional electricity is needed in the Boro season to run around 2.5 lakh irrigation pumps.

At present the Power Development Board generates around 3,300-3,500 MW of electricity against the demand of around 3,900-4,000 MW. Although the Labour Act 2006 was promulgated in October 2006 by the then BNP-led government, the interim government first enforced the evening ban on shops from 7:00pm. The ban was withdrawn during the Ramadan in September.

At the meeting the shop-owners asked power officials why they were the ones who were always asked to close down their business when there were other users who consumed more, if not the same, quantity of electricity after the evening. 'Hundreds of fairs have been organised by different quarters and they consume a huge amount of electricity throughout the night,' said Helal.

He also asked how many years they would have to face this sort of ban. Tamim asked power officials to look into the allegations of over-consumption of power by the fairs and said that the government had taken steps to increase electricity generation.

When the special assistant's attention was drawn to the persecution of shopkeepers by the law enforcers during the previous ban, he said, 'I am aware of such allegations.

Definitely we will try to prevent such incidents of harassment from taking place.' Tamim said that after discussion with the power officials, he would also specify which shops would be out of the ban's purview.

Power secretary M Fouzul Kabir Khan aidthat the evening ban on the shops would remain till the end of summer.

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