Why does Titas want to increase the residential gas bill!



Serajul Islam Siraj, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Lalmatia resident Dr. Monirul Islam uses prepaid gas meter. Tk. 500 a month gas cannot finish. The meter goes to Tk. 400 per month with rent.

Another house of Dr. Monirul Islam is in Aruna Palli of Savar. Even if there is no one there, he has to pay a bill of Tk. 1080 per month. But both of its connections are under the same distribution company Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company. He told Barta24.com about these two experiences just a few miles apart. On the opposite side of his house in Dhanmondi, customers without meters have to pay extra bills.

He said, 5 people cook in my Lalmatia house. Never had to recharge more than Tk. 500. And paying bills for 3 years in a row where we don't live. That is more than double.

Monirul Islam expressed his regret and said that he saw the news in the newspaper that the profit bonus is being taken by cutting the customer's pocket. I saw in the newspaper that the officers and employees of Karnaphuli Gas Distribution Company received a bonus of Tk. 18 lakh each year. We pay the bills and they are making mountains of money.

Abed Ali, a resident of Rupnagar residential area (Road 19), a prepaid meter user, told Barta24.com that his family has 4 members. Tk. 350 to Tk. 450 taka recharge month passes. This is more or less the experience of gas prepaid meter users. Those who have more family members are spending a maximum of Tk. 600.

Fixed bill is collected for unmetered residential customers which is currently equal to two stoves of 60 cubic meters and one stove of 55 cubic meters. Whether the customer uses, does not use or uses more. Gas distribution companies have been saying for decades that unmetered residential customers are burning more gas. By saying this, the price is increased from time to time. Their point was that installing meters would increase their revenue. But when the first prepaid meter was installed in Lalmatia area (in 2016), the result was reversed. It was seen that the bills of pre-paid meter users were coming from Tk. 150 to Tk. 250 (then the bill of unmetered customers was Tk. 450 for two stoves).

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said in the question and answer session in the Jatiya Sangsad(JS) in 2016, the results of the pilot project of installing pre-paid meters are good. 33 cubic meters of gas is being saved per month in two stoves. At that time the bill of 77.41 cubic meters was fixed in two burners. That is, customers are burning 45 cubic meters of gas.

Before the pilot project, the movement to install gas prepaid meters was noticeable. But now distribution companies have taken a strategic position to delay as much as possible. Out of 38 lakh residential customers, only about 4 lakh meters have been installed in 8 years. The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) is pushing for the customers to buy and install themselves due to the slow-moving policy of the companies.

BERC ordered expediting installation of pre-paid meters in 2018 in response to hike in gas prices. It was decided to open the facility so that customers can buy and install meters from the market themselves. Accordingly, after a long wait, a policy was formulated in 2021. The policy states that the customer will purchase the meter from the store of his choice and submit it to the distribution company. Distribution companies will test and install at customer's premises. However, it has been detained due to various complications. Companies are installing meters at prices several times higher than the market. That too slowly. Companies are starting to think of it as a new sector of looting.

BERC held a public hearing on the latest gas price hike in March last year. Then, based on the usage statistics of prepaid customers of the distribution companies, one stove was reduced from 73.41 cubic meters and two stoves from 77.41 cubic meters to 55 and 60 cubic meters respectively.

Titas Gas has applied to BERC to increase the existing one stove from 55 cubic meters (Tk. 990) to 76.65 cubic meters (Tk. 1379.70), two stoves from 60 cubic meters (Tk. 1080) to 88.44 cubic meters (Tk. 1591.92). Although the application was submitted in May this year, the matter was kept under wraps after much controversy. However, recently it has been known about the start of activities in this regard quite secretly.

BERC Chairman Nurul Amin said that the proposal to increase the gas bill of Titas will be taken up in the commission meeting soon.

Titas claims that unmetered consumers use more gas than the prescribed amount (55 and 60 cubic meters). As a result the system loss has increased. An application has been made to make one stove 76.65 cubic meters and two stoves 88.44 cubic meters. The earlier orders given by BERC were not realistic.

Former member of BERC (then member - Gas) Maqbul E-Elahi Chowdhury told Barta24.com, I think it should have been below 50 cubic meters. 55 and 60 cubic meters were done for the first time respectively. Provisions are then made for installation of prepaid meters and subsequent reductions.

In response to the question that on what basis 55 and 60 cubic meters have been made, he said that they had 3.5 lakh prepaid meters where it was seen that 45 was used on an average.

In response to a question, he said, will you consider 3.5 lakh meters, or their (Titas gas) 100 meters. If more gas is used in a particular area, then a meter should be installed there quickly, it will not be logical to increase the bill of 34 lakh customers.

BERC has started the process of increasing the gas bill of unmetered residential customers. It is said that two officials entered the field in collaboration with Titas and Petrobangla. They want it quickly to implement the card application.

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) senior vice-president and energy advisor Shamsul Alam told Barta24.com that BERC must hold a public hearing to respond to Titas' application. There is no opportunity to increase the bill without public hearing. When the public hearing starts, there will be a discussion on this matter with data. I don't see any justification for increasing the bill.

   

Bangladeshi couple shot dead in South Africa



District Correspondent, Barta24.com, Noakhali
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Terrorists shot dead expatriate husband and pregnant wife in Johannesburg, South Africa on Sunday (March 3) evening.

The deceased are Md. Mohin Bhuiya (32), son of Md. Hossein Bhuiya and his wife Runa Akhter (22) of North Manikpur village, Ward No. 4, Arjuntala Union of Upazila. She is the daughter of Md Liton of Jamadar Bari in Kesharpur Union of the same upazila.

This information was confirmed by Abdul Jabbar, UP Member of Ward No. 4 of Arjuntala Union Parishad.

He said armed terrorists shot Mohin and his pregnant wife in Johannesburg, Africa on Sunday evening. At that time both husband and wife died on the spot. Later the locals rescued them and took them to the hospital where the doctor on duty declared them dead. Fortunately, their two children who were with them survived. The two younger brothers of the deceased who were in Africa reported the matter to the country house around 2 o'clock on Sunday. Initially we don't know much more than that. It is believed that this incident happened due to previous violence.

Md. Mofiz Bhuiya, the younger brother of the deceased, said that my elder brother Mohin first migrated to South Africa in 2008 in search of livelihood. Then he took his wife six years ago. My sister in law was 7 months pregnant. Terrorists shot dead my elder brother along with Bhabi.

UP member Abdul Jabbar also said that the news of the deceased expatriate's death was conveyed to the local people on the microphone of the mosque of the village house. This has cast a shadow of mourning over the entire area. The family of the deceased sought the help of the government to bring their bodies to the country.

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Prime Minister awarded medals to 72 BGB members



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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On Monday (March 4) at 9:30 am, she joined the parade organized on the occasion of BGB Day at Bir Uttam Anwar Hossain Parade Ground, Pilkhana.

Later, the Prime Minister took the salute besides inspecting the official parade. After the parade, 72 BGB members were awarded medals for their heroic and meritorious work in BGB.

In the speech of the chief guest, the Prime Minister said that besides protecting the border, BGB is playing a role in preventing smuggling and drugs. Government is working BGB as a smart and modern force. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged BGB members to work according to the chain of command.

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Farmer's doom due to incentive onion seed



Majedul Haque Manik, District Correspondent, Barta24.com, Meherpur
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Farmers in Meherpur have suffered huge losses by cultivating onions under government supplied seed as incentives. After all the expenses of onion cultivation, only onion roots are found instead of onion ‘Guti’. It is bad news for the country in the year of onion shortage.

The answer to the question that the farmers planted for some unknown reason despite knowing that the seeds were out of season is not being answered. More than five hundred farmers of the district have to pay the loss.

According to the investigation, the agriculture office has provided seed and fertilizer assistance to 520 marginal farmers of Meherpur district in the current season for growing onion crops under government incentives. Each farmer cultivates onion in one bigha of land. BADC, a government seed producer, imported Nashik Red N53 onion seeds from India. Which is distributed among these marginal farmers free of cost by the Agriculture Office as an incentive.

According to sources from the Agriculture Office, 520 farmers in three upazilas of the district were given one kilogram of onion seeds and two types of fertilizers under the direction of the Department of Agricultural Extension.

The farmers said that some of the farmers sowed the seeds by trusting the government seeds and some planted onion seedlings by making seedlings. Even though onion seedlings are planted in the field in November, no onion pods have been found till date. Farmers are not getting any onion at the base of the cultivated onion trees in the fields. Farmers are spending the necessary fertilizers and pesticides waiting day after day in the hope that the pods will set. But if you pick up the plant, you can't see anything except the roots at the base. Many farmers have given up hope of onions without getting any response from the agriculture office.

Speaking to some agriculture officials who did not want to be named, Indian Nasik Red N53 onion seeds are mainly used for summer onion cultivation. In three upazilas of the district, the farmers got good yield and price of summer onion. Agriculture officials knew that if this summer variety is planted in winter, it will not produce onions. But under the pressure of the upper class, they distributed these seeds in winter. No one answered the question that the big owners have forced the farmers to grow this variety of seeds for some unknown reason.

Touhidul Islam, the affected farmer of Saharbati village, said that he has spent more than Tk. 30,000 on one bigha of onion cultivation. Even though the onion picking time has passed, the onion has not set. Now it will cost some more money to clear the field. The affected farmers are not getting any instructions despite repeatedly contacting the agriculture office.


The victimized onion farmers said that they planted onions in the hope of good yield from the government seeds. But what they didn't know is that summer onion seeds planted in winter will not set. As a result, these farmers have become helpless due to the loss of the entire plantation.

It can be seen that if the minimum financial loss of onion plantation is 30 thousand rupees per bigha, then the total cost of 520 bigha land of 520 farmers is more than Tk. 1 crore 56 lakh. In the year of the major onion crisis in the current season, on the one hand, the onion production has decreased, on the other hand, the marginal farmers have suffered a great financial loss. To compensate for the loss, the aggrieved farmers repeatedly complained to the agriculture office, but there is no assurance or remedy.

Why was it distributed among the farmers knowing that the seeds were out of season? Such questions were put to Meherpur District Agriculture Extension Department Deputy Director Vijay Krishna Halder. But he said without giving any answer, good yield of summer onion has been obtained with onion seeds of this variety.

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PM tells BGB to follow discipline and chain of command



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, I sincerely congratulate those who have been awarded various awards today in recognition of their heroic and meritorious work. This is how you show your skills. May we give this medal more and more. Discipline is the main driving force of an army. Never disturb the order. Follow discipline and chain of command.

She said this at the parade organized on the occasion of BGB Day at Bir Uttam Anwar Hossain Parade Ground in Pilkhana on Monday (March 4) at 9:30 am.

She said, we have sheltered more than 10 lakh Rohingya refugees for humanitarian reasons. Negotiations are underway to send them back to Myanmar. We did not quarrel with the neighbors. We are trying to solve the problem through discussions with neighboring countries.

Using the quote of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who told BGB members, "Work with faith." Act righteously.

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