People pay 60% more than they should for electricity consumption, environmentalists have said.
They said this at a press conference titled "Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan: Expectation of Civil Society" on Saturday.
Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt and Waterkeepers Bangladesh jointly organised the virtual press conference to express their expectation in Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan which will be presented by the prime minister on 17 March.
In his address, Hasan Mehedi, member secretary of the working group, said: "State-owned power plants remain idle. Some power plants which are at the end of their lifetime are generally seen to remain idle, but the government is paying rental power plants' owners though there is no need to buy electricity from them."
He added that the government is misusing public money being influenced by some vested quarters. Every year a huge amount of subsidy is given for electricity generation.
"Once we produced 11,000-megawatt electricity which was the highest ever. After 2018, our average production of electricity is 7,500-8,000 megawatt, but we have the capacity of produce 2,40,000 megawatt including captive power," Hasan explained while presenting his keynote speech.
"An unknown reason drives us to build many power plants and approve rental and quick rental power plants. Even we renewed the contract with such rent-based power plants despite having no demand. It does not suggest a sustainable development anyway," he observed.
If there is no use of 60% of electricity generation capacity, then what about the money taken from the public as electricity bill? Professor M Shamsul Alam, an energy expert, posed the question.
"It is our right to get electricity at a rational price. We have to raise our voice," said, Alam who is also an adviser of Consumer Association of Bangladesh.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association, said: "We see costly development across the country. We have not been able to develop climate governance before development of general governance."
Any project needs environmental clearance certificate and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a must to get such clearance, said the environmentalist.
It is a must for the government to make the EIA reports public to get public opinion before taking up any project, but it is not doing so, added Rizwana.
Many projects started without an approval of the EIA, said Sharif Jamil, coordinator, Waterkeepers Bangladesh, who moderated the press conference.
The speakers also urged the government to impose green tax on those factories polluting the environment.
M Zakir Hossain Khan, executive director, Change Initiative, said: "We need $2.5 billion yearly to manage loss and damage we face due to climate change. By imposing green tax, the government can get $1 billion."
The discussants also advocated for 100% shifting to renewal energy by 2050 in the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan.
However, the country ranked 162th among 180 countries according to the environmental assessment of 2020 and 139th among 162 countries regarding world human rights index.