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BD minister sacked over power crisis

September 30, 2006

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DHAKA, Sept 29: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia fired her power minister on Friday amid growing protests over massive electricity shortages across the country.

Anwarul Kabir Talukder was removed from his position shortly after announcing he had decided to resign, Bangladesh Television (BTV) said in its late night news progrmamme, quoting the prime minister’s office.

Mr Talukder, a retired major general who had only been power minister for four months, became the second victim of a spiralling power crisis that has engulfed Bangladesh.

He told private ATN Bangla Television earlier in the day that he had decided to resign within the next 24 hours, and shouldered some of the blame for the power outages.

“I’ve decided to resign on my own. The reason is that despite doing I all could as the state minister for power for more than four months, I could not live up to people’s expectations,” Talukder said.

Minutes later, the prime minister’s office told BTV that Talukder had been removed from his post with immediate effect.

His removal came a day after severe power outages triggered violent protests in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka and many other parts of the country.

In Dhaka alone at least 80 people were injured as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse violent mobs who torched cars and buses, and barricaded major highways.

Rioting due to the ongoing power shortages earlier this year led to 17 people being killed when police fired at protestors in the northern town of Kansat.

Only 25 per cent of the country’s 140 million people have access to electricity. Total daily demand is estimated at 4,900 megawatts, compared with a supply of only 3,065 megawatts.

The World Bank in July estimated that Bangladesh needed 10 billion dollars of investment over the next 10 years to fix its average daily power shortfalls. —AFP