More than a decade after forming the company by breaking the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), a new distribution company has been functionalised in some of the BPDB zones through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and power purchase and sales agreement.
As per the agreement signed on August 1, the Rajshahi and Rangpur zones of BPDB are now going to be run under the new company- North West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited (NWZPDCL).
Mohammad Zahirul Haque, secretary of BPDB and AKM Mushfiqur Rahman, secretary of NWZPDC, signed on behalf of their respective companies.
A section of BPDB staff and officials however, vehemently oppose the formation of the new company and their protests have practically brought BPDB's day-to-day operations to a halt.
On Wednesday, agitating BPDB employees vandalised the chairman's room and shouted slogans in front of the minister and the power secretary’s office. They also staged a demonstration in front of the Biddyut Bhaban.
Sources in the BPDB told Dhaka Tribune that on August 1, the board officially handed over their 1.8 million customers in Rajshahi and Rangpur regions which include power distribution of 16 districts through a deal with NWZPDC.
As per the deal, NWZPDC, which is yet to take over the ownership of the assets of those regions will run as a separate company and a BPDB subsidiary.
Zakiul Islam, managing director of NWZPDC, said all steps will be taken to run the company properly.
BPDB Secretary Mohammad Zahirul Haque said it will take time to hand over the assets to NWZPDC because a committee needs to be formed to do this and the transfers will be based on the committee's report.
A BPDB official told Dhaka Tribune that the Power Division has been trying to form this company in Rajshahi and Rangpur regions since 2003.
The official said the government had held back from forming the new company because of the protests within BPDB. However now as the company is being formed, activities in those two regions will now be conducted as per the company rules.
The official added that the new company had been formed as part of a plan to take the electricity distribution system from the hands of BPDB completely.
The BPDB official also said that Mymensingh-Tangail and Sylhet-Chittagong zones which are still under the BPDB's distribution system will eventually be brought under separate companies.
NWZPDC was formed with sixteen districts of Rajshahi and Rangpur in 2003. The managing director and other senior officials were also appointed at that time.
But faced with protests from BPDB staff and officials, the company could not start its work. On August 12, 2015 the Power Division sent a letter to the board asking that they make NWZPDC functional, with no results.
Finally, on April 17 this year, the division sent another letter to BPDB and asked it to hand over the assets of the sixteen districts of Rajshahi and Rangpur zones to NWZPDC. The attempt was again foiled by the protest of BPDB staff.
In February 2014, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked to break up BPDB and make it a corporation like Petrobangla to facilitate electricity distribution and to make the board a profitable entity.
Previously, Dhaka Electric Supply Authority (DESA) was formed by breaking it away from BPDB. After that DESA was further broken down to DESCO and DPDC.
At the same time another company named Westzone Power Distribution Company Ltd was formed with 21 districts.