DHAKA: Thousands of Bangladeshis angry over frequent electricity outages lobbed stones at a power station and clashed with riot police Wednesday in a town outside the capital Dhaka, leaving at least 50 people injured, police said.
Police responded with batons and tear gas to beat back about 5,000 protesters, many of them armed with iron rods and stones, in Narayanganj town outside Dhaka, local police officer Akhtar Hossain said. Protesters also blocked traffic and smashed vehicles, and threw stones at the power station, but caused no major damage to the facility.
Several policemen were among the injured, Hossain said. Similar violence was reported in more than 10 other towns across this power-starved South Asian nation on Tuesday, but there was no reports of any injuries. Bangladesh has a daily shortfall of about 2,000 megawatts of electricity because of aging power plants, resulting in frequent outages.
The government says private companies will build at least more than 20 plants to produce nearly 2,400 megawatts of electricity by the end of next year. “The power supply will improve a lot when we will have the new plants in place,” said Abul Kalam Azad, a top official at the government’s power ministry. Narayanganj, the site of the latest power-related violence, is an industrial hub.
Residents say they get electricity for scarcely six hours a day and have to depend on makeshift power generators.
“The situation is really unbearable,” said Mohammad Rafique, who runs a convenience shop in Narayanganj.