Bangladesh Prioritises Fossils Over Food, Says BWGED

Bangladesh would pay close to US$11 billion over the 25 years life of the coal plant

According to a new report released by Growthwatch India and BWGED Bangladesh highlights how Bangladesh could be losing close to US$400 million annually over its deal with the Indian company, Adani. Civil society representatives in both countries call for a rethink of the deal due to the global energy crisis.

The report ‘An Achilles Heel of the Power Sector of Bangladesh’ examines Bangladesh’s cross border power transmission agreement with Adani’s Godda coal plant in Jharkhand. According to the report Bangladesh would pay close to US$11 billion over the 25 years life of the coal plant.

Highlighting Bangladesh Government’s recent decision to reduce food subsidies for the poor due to rising cost of fossil fuel, Hasan Mehedi, co-author of the report, questions Bangladesh Government’s priorities. “It seems that the Bangladesh government is prioritising fossil fuel imports instead of food for the poor. Coal, oil and gas are expensive but solar and wind are cheap. Shouldn’t governments focus on the economic and physical wellbeing of its citizens?” questioned Hasan Mehedi, Member Secretary, Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED)

Rising cost of global fossil fuel has forced Bangladesh Government to reduce its food subsidies for the poor by close to US $100 million. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina led government instead plans to further subsidise fossil fuel imports.

“While PM Sheikh Hasina’s government is cutting down US$100mn from its food subsidy budget, its planning on paying 4 times that to Adani for coal power electricity that Bangladesh does not need”, Mehedi added further.

According to the estimation of the report, the cost of electricity from the Godda power plant will be 56% higher than the other imported electricity and 196% higher than solar power in India.

“The Bangladesh government should also stop importing any fossil fuel based electricity and take a strict position to import only renewable energy from neighbouring countries in line with the Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan”, said Vidya Dinker, co-author of the report and coordinator of Growthwatch, India.

The report suggests instructing Adani Group to supply at least 15% electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 and 30% by 2030 in line with the SDGs and Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan.

“Considering the energy security, Russia-Ukraine war and global economic crisis, there is no other way than cancelling these types of agreements and building a renewable energy based electricity system in Bangladesh”, said Dr. Kazi Maruful Islam, Convener of BWGED and Professor of Development Studies department in the University of Dhaka.

The writer of this article is Dr. Seema Javed, a known Environmentalist, Journalist and Communications Expert.

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