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Crisis Breeds Corruption

November 9, 2014

Like everyone else, I was eagerly waiting for the initial probe report on national grid failure. To my disappointment and surprise, I found,reading news reports about probe committee’s meeting with the journalists, that the 7-member probe committee led by additional secretary of power division were unable to get down to the nitty-gritty of the total blackout.

The committee blamed internal grid flaws for the nationwide power outage. Moreover, it sought 10 more days, which have not yet been official, to explain what caused the country’s worst grid failure and how it happened.

Dilly-dallying the investigation means government is holding out something on the public.

Prima facie, media reports said a technical hitch on the Indian side triggered the 10-hour-long man-made disaster. Hours later, the information was retracted from more or less all the reports.

The incident left a blot on AL govt’s reputation for upping the power production. At the same time, it is a blow to the regional power connectivity.

For the moment, Indian connection has been swept under the rug.

Now it appears that the infrastructure we built over the years for power transmission across the country is faulty. Sub standard materials had been used to build this vast and criss-cross transmission lines.

However, this is an initial assessment of some experts and no firm conclusion.

John F Kennedy once said,”The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger—but recognize the opportunity.”

Well, it is perhaps true that crisis opens up the door of opportunity. But in this country, crisis breeds corruption as well.

In its previous term, AL govt introduced the quick rental power plants as a stopgap measure for fixing country’s perennial power crisis. The party cronies got most of the licenses of those power plants.

This time my fear is that the feeble transmission network may be a lame excuse for its expensive revamp, another potential source of misappropriating taxpayers’ money.

Finally, lonely Hawaian khambas* (poles) may have a chance to get Awami cables.

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*During the BNP-Jamaat regime, the alternate power house “Hawa Bhaban”, a house where Begum Zia’s eldest son and his loyalists set up an office to influence the decision making of mega projects and to mediate between govt and businessmen on key projects, took the burden of electrifying the remote parts of Bangladesh. Hawa Bhaban-blessed Khamba Limited, a company owned by a close friend of Tareq Zia and now in jail for corruption charges, got the job. Millions of taka were spent and thousands of electric poles , aka khambas, were installed without any cables. The project did not come to fruition as there was widespread corruption and as there was an end to the tenure of BNP-Jamaat govt. The cableless khambas have become synonymous with govt corruption.

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