Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has envisioned an electricity-run transport system – electric trains, buses and cars – to match the country's overall development activities.
To complement the upcoming development plans, she on Sunday said the country will continue to add new power plants.
"Electricity-run metro rail will start its operation soon and electric buses will gradually be introduced in the future. We will be able to manufacture electric cars in our country and our rail system will also be shifted to electricity," the PM said while virtually inaugurating five power plants that add 779 megawatts to the national grid.
The latest inauguration has pushed up the country's on-grid power generation capacity to 22,000MW, while the demand hovers between 11,500MW and 13,000MW.
But this demand gap is temporary. The prime minister noted that the government has several long-term plans to turn the country into a developed country. These plans include a Perspective Plan, Vision-2041 and Delta Plan.
Implementing these plans will push up energy demands quickly and so the government will continue rolling out new power projects.
Emphasising uninterrupted power supply, the PM said the transmission lines have to be set up alongside increasing the production to meet the demand.
"So, we are constructing the transmission lines as well," she said.
The premier said the government's main aim is to provide electricity extensively to rural areas so the scope of employment generation increases.
She continued, "The overall development of rural people is on top of our priority list and that is why we have given the highest importance to communication and power lines."
"Along with the electricity generation capacity growth, the people's electricity consumption has also increased," Sheikh Hasina noted at the inaugural function.
Rural people are now enjoying urban facilities because of electricity access, which is their constitutional right too, she added.
However, she urged the people to maintain austerity in using electricity to repay most of the government's huge subsidy to power generation.
"The government has been providing a huge subsidy to power generation and that is why you [people] are getting electricity at an affordable price...if you do not maintain austerity in using electricity, we cannot continue this subsidy anymore."
PM's Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Affairs Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury also spoke on the occasion, while State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid also attended the ceremony.
Power Division's Secretary Md Habibur Rahman at the event highlighted the overall development of power sectors under the Awami League government.
Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus conducted the ceremony at Ganabhaban.
A documentary on the newly-built five power plants was screened at the ceremony.
The five power plants are Bibiyana-3 400-MW Combined Cycle Power Plant in Habiganj, up-gradation of 150-MW Power Plant to 225-MW Combined Cycle Power Plant in Sylhet, Zulda 100-MW Power Plant Unit-2 in Chattogram, Meghnaghat 104-MW Power Plant in Narayanganj and Modhumoti 100-MW Power Plant in Bagerhat.
The prime minister observed that both solvency and purchasing power of people in rural areas have increased as they can now afford TV, refrigerator, and in many cases air conditioners too. "Their capacity has increased gradually and it has grown even more…it is now our desire that there will be no disparity and people will get every facility."
In this connection, she said the people will have to develop the habit of austerity as there is no disgrace if they exercise the practice of putting off the switch with their own hands after using electricity.
The premier also unveiled the cover of a publication titled "100" on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The prime minister also emphasised giving importance to the environment while taking up any development project.
"We must focus on the environment while taking up any project. We always should take protective measures before taking any step," she said.
Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, she said the government is providing vaccines to people so that no one is left out of it, no matter what the cost is.
She reiterated her call to all to maintain health safety guidelines even after taking vaccines.
The premier said the development pace in the country has suffered a little setback owing to the pandemic, but it has not been halted, rather the wheels of the country's economy are running better than in other countries across the world.
Meanwhile in another programme, Nasrul Hamid, state minister of power energy and mineral resources, asked all power distribution companies to have an electric vehicle charging team at their companies.
While addressing a virtual programme titled "Guideline on Electric Vehicle Charging", he said "Electric vehicle is a most discussed issue in the world now. So, we need to take the necessary preparation on electric vehicle charging stations, its tariff and how this vehicle's overall information will be kept."
In a press release, referring to Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA), Power Division said that a petrol-run vehicle costs Tk5,375 to travel 1,000km while the electric one costs only Tk1,250.
However, SREDA Chairman Mohammad Alauddin told The Business Standard that it was an initial estimation and it needs more analysis.