September 21, 2020, 5:55 am

Kuntal Roy

2020-07-12 21:16:02 BdST

Lawyers, activists urged to scrap unconstitutional speedy energy supply act

Speakers at a recent virtual seminar urged to scrap the speedy energy supply act, officially known as the Quick enhancement of Electricity and Energy Supply (Special Provision) Act 2010, terming it “unconstitutional”.

They also urged the government to cancel all the coal and gas-based rental and quick rental power plants and coal-fired power plant projects immediately.

Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED) and School of People’s Law jointly organised this virtual seminar titled “Challenges of Energy Sector Immunity in Bangladesh”, at around 5 pm.

Eminent environmentalist Syeda Rizwana Hasan criticised the government's plan to build 29 coal fired power plants without a coal policy.

“In the last 14-15 years, a number of coal policies were drafted, but none was finalised. How come the government went on building 29 plants without even finalising a policy?”, asked Rizwana.

Rizwana, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) also criticised the government’s intolerance to opposition voices. 

“In the past, people could protest against the open pit coal mining and power plant. But now, it’s impossible for even 200 people to gather and protest against a power plant. They will be beaten by the police. No exceptions for even the university professors”, said Rizwana.

The Speedy power supply act was enacted in 2010 for two years. The law was first extended by two years until 2014 and by four years until 2018. In 2018, the tenure of the act was extended for the third time, until 2021. 

Supreme court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua presented the keynote speech at the webinar.

He said, “This law is a clear violation of the constitution. It has unfettered power and is being used against public interest.”

He criticised the law as it indemnifies officials from prosecution for awarding contracts without tender.

In late June, Former Power Division secretary Fouzul Kabir Khan also demanded to revoke the speedy power supply act.

He commented the act helped gain the capacity, but turned out to be a reason for the power sector’s inefficiency. The law has been renewed multiple times which is no longer necessary. 

The national Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports also urged the government recently to scrap the law.

They demanded a transparent, pragmatic and pro-people power policy for ensuring the country's energy security through utmost utilisation of domestic resources.

Supreme court lawyer Qazi Zahed Iqbal, BWGED member secretary Hasan Mehedi spoke at the seminar, among others.

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