The government on Thursday signed a financial deal with the World Bank worth $600 million or Tk 4,800 crore to increase the capacity of power transmission and distribution in the rural areas.
The WB will finance over 72 per cent of the Rural Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project worth Tk 6,640 crore at 0.75 per cent interest rate. The government will repay the loan with interest in 40 years which includes a 10-year grace period.
Economic Relation Division secretary Mohammad Mesbahuddin and acting head of the WB’s country office Christine E kimes signed the deal for each side.
Under the project, the state-run Power Grid Company of Bangladesh and Rural Electrification Board would set up new electricity transmission and distribution lines and new substations.The authorities would also upgrade existing lines in the rural areas of Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet divisions, to reduce system losses and enhance the capacity of the rural electricity networks.
Mejbahuddin said that the project would allow more rural people to have access to electricity. Christine said, only 42% of the rural population currently has access to electricity in Bangladesh, leaving about 13 million rural households without electricity.‘Access to energy promotes economic growth and prosperity and has a positive impact on income, expenditure and education’ she said.The Palli Bidyut Samitis under the Rural Electrification Board have been now facing overloading problems at both the 11kV and 33kV power distribution networks as the authorities concerned have provided power connections beyond supply capacity of the networks.On December 22, 2013, the REB chairman Moind Uddin said that some 15-20 per cent of the 11kV feeder lines and eight per cent of the 33kV lines in REB’s distribution system are overloaded causing unexpected power cuts.