Although government- and private-run power plants generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity per day against the demand of only 310MW in Sylhet, people there still experience frequent power cuts.
The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) said Sylhet is a storm-prone area. Therefore, electricity transmission lines often get severed because of storms, resulting in power failures, even if there is enough supply against the demand.
To overcome this situation, the government in 2017 took up a project titled "Power Distribution System Development Project, Sylhet division" involving Tk1,891 crore.
Under the project, underground electricity transmission lines were drawn in an area of seven-kilometres in the city at a cost of Tk55 crore.
However, the BPDB is now reinstalling overhead lines, raising questions over the benefit of the project.
At the beginning of the project, the people concerned said the city would be free of a jungle of overhead cables with the implementation of the project.
Moreover, there would be no cobweb of wires of various service providers in addition to giving city people relief from power outages caused by storms. The beauty of the city would also increase, they added.
When all overhead cables and electric poles from one-kilometre road in the Dargah Gate area in the city were removed after successfully installing the underground power lines there, the street had taken a fresh look, and the initiative was much appreciated at home and abroad.
Later, the power development board completed work on laying underground power transmission lines on the city's busiest Chauhatta-Bandarbazar road.
However, after drawing the underground lines there, they have again recently begun installing electric poles and overhead wires on the same road.
The BPDB is stringing up a messy tangle of cables although it had promised to free the city roads of overhead cables.
However, Ziaul Haque, executive engineer at Power Development Board, Sylhet, and also in-charge of the project, said since the project is being implemented for the first time in the country, there may occur some technical defects in the underground power lines. So, they are also installing overhead power transmission lines temporarily so that they can continue power supply through the upper line in case of any fault in the underground lines.
Expressing frustration, Abdul Karik Kim, coordinator of Sankhubdo Nagarik Andolan, a Sylhet-based civil society organisation, said, "The authorities concerned had pledged to make the city free of overhead cables. We had suffered much for road digging work over the last one year. Yet, we tolerated everything thinking of a long-term benefit."
"But, if overhead cables still dangle, what benefits the project implementation have brought for us? Why has public money been wasted this way?" he questioned.
There was a jungle of overhead cables, including those of telephone and electricity lines, internet service providers and cable TV operators, hanging over the city roads.
As a result, darkness would descend on city neighbourhoods due to power failures caused by rain or storm. The messy tangle of cables had also damaged the beauty of the city.
Against these backdrops, the installation of underground power transmission cables has been initiated with the funding from the power development board.
The city corporation is assisting the work, according to the Sylhet City Corporation and the power development board.
Cables of other service providers are also being relocated to the underground, they added.
Earlier, there were electricity poles and lines along the Chauhatta-Bandarbazar road.
This time, the line is being drawn by placing electricity poles in the middle of the road. The city people think that the project is doing more damage to the city's beauty rather than beautification.
In this regard, Ruhul Alam, executive engineer (electricity) at Sylhet City Corporation, said, they are installing electric poles for the time being.
If it is seen that the underground power line is working well after six or seven months the overhead cables and electric poles will be removed, he added.
The poles have been placed in the middle because a median strip will be constructed there and trees will be planted next to the poles. As a result, there will be no loss of beauty.
Besides, street lights will also be installed on these poles.
When contacted, Ariful Haque Chowdhury, mayor of Sylhet City Corporation, said even though overhead cables were drawn by installing electricity poles over the road, wires of internet service providers, cable TV and other services are being removed.
No messy tangle of these cables will reappear again. There is no fear of the city's losing its beauty, he added.