DHAKA, Reuters - Authorities in cricket-crazy Bangladesh have asked factories across the capital Dhaka to suspend operations each evening until the end of the World Cup to save power so fans can watch the tournament on television.
“We have issued the order to the factories to switch off between 1700 and 2300 — the peak hours — in a desperate move to save power so people can watch the play on television,” said a senior official of the Dhaka Electric Supply Company. The power supply officials said around 5,000 industries and factories would be affected by the decision. The final is to be played in Mumbai on 2 April.
Connections would be instantly cut if any factory switched on to power its machines during the peak hours.
The authorities said they also need to save power to run irrigation pumps during this peak rice planting season, as the country struggles to ensure food security for its more than 150 million people.
Earlier, authorities also asked people to cut the use of air conditioners, water pumps, micro-ovens and other home appliances during the tournament.
“We did this (power load management) in the past too but this time the World Cup has added extra pressure on the supply,” said another power official.
Chronic power shortages often stir public anger and trigger violent protests, hold back industry and are widely cited as a barrier to foreign investment in the impoverished country.
Authorities took the same step during the soccer World Cup in 2010 as fans went on the rampage, vandalising more than a dozen electricity supply centres when blackouts hit coverage of games from South Africa.
Only 45 percent of Bangladesh’s people have access to electricity. Still, the country faces a shortfall of 2,000 megawatts of electricity, resulting in frequent power cuts and economic losses estimated at nearly $1 billion a year.
The 19 February-2 April World Cup is being staged in India, Sri Lanka as well as Bangladesh.