A step back in Sylhet city’s removal of overhead cables

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This January, Sylhet city was praised for having a street with no cobweb of overhead cables as the first phase of underground power line project of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) was progressing.

Implementation of the project was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and resumed recently.

But before it is finished, BPDB initiated an ‘alternative’ plan considering the probability of power cut off due to any malfunction of underground system.

Following this ‘alternative’ plan, BPDB is installing electric poles in the middle of the roads from Amberkhana to Bandarbazar, which is the city’s most important road.

Seeing the work in progress, which requires digging holes in the middle of the road, concerned citizens from all walks are criticising BPDB and Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) for the double standard stand.

Ziaul Haque, executive engineer of Power Distribution System Development Project of BPDB, said, “This installation of electric poles will be completed in a week. It’s under the same project of underground power lines.”

“We had to decide on the alternative plan considering if the underground power line malfunctions at any point of time. The poles will be used as a backup if we face some problem with the underground system,” he said.

Contacted, Ruhul Alam, executive engineer of SCC, said, “The decision was made in a joint meeting of BPDB and SCC; and both parties agreed on keeping an alternative option if the underground systems malfunction.”

“We will be constructing a road divider and the poles will be inside the dividers. We will use the poles to install street lights,” he said.

Abdul Karim Kim, coordinator of Sanghoboddho Nagorik Andolon in Sylhet, said, “This is ridiculous and the plan is basically a move to facilitate cable operators and broadband providers.”

“Beautification was never a priority, rather business is. They will unofficially let the businesses use the poles to tangle cables, like they always do. And moreover, there will be signboards in the poles to be rented for advertisement,” he said.

A report published in The Daily Star on March 4 of this year also mentioned the concerns of internet service providers not being able to install their cables. At the time, SCC, Sylhet ISP Association, NTTN providers and BTRC had been meeting repeatedly to solve the problem.

Asked about these concerns, SCC executive engineer Ruhul Alam, said, “We will not let the cable operator or broadband providers to use the poles. Roadside poles and cables will be removed, so the poles on the road dividers will not ruin our urban beautification initiative in any way.”

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