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Why do we feel need to close shops at 8pm when load shedding increases?

In China, with a population of 1.41 billion, it is mandatory to close shops and markets during the evening hours, which is strictly adhered to by everyone. Evening here refers to either 5 or 6 o'clock. Similar rules are followed in Europe and America as well. No transactions are allowed after evening hours, and shops must remain closed. Therefore, no industrialized country keeps markets open after evening. Then why can't we close shops at 8 PM? If shops close at 8 PM, the government has to intervene in a structured manner. When power distribution companies conduct campaigns, shops close at 8 PM. If the campaign stops, no one closes shops before 10 PM. On the other hand, the government only imposes restrictions on shop closure to increase load shedding.

In the capital, there are some businesses that consume as much electricity as a small district. That is, these businesses consume the same amount of electricity as an entire district. Even though there is load shedding in the districts, there is very little load shedding in these businesses. Therefore, they are kept free from load shedding through special arrangements.

If China's population of 1.41 billion can manage to finish transactions before evening, why can't we? While China may be strict, others might criticize, but nearly 740 million people live in European countries. They too conduct transactions before evening. The United States, with a population of about 330 million, also closes markets immediately before evening. Despite some places being open, the practice of closing shops during the evening has become common in those countries.

In our country, we have failed to adopt this practice. Firstly, people have become accustomed to such transactions for a long time. That is, after finishing office, court, or household chores, they go to the market in the evening or afternoon. If they sit down to eat after 8 or 9 PM, it takes another hour or two. And once they return home, they seldom go back out. The main festivals like Eid extend the shop closure time by at least 15 days. Even though arrangements may be made for festivals, if everyone decides to keep shops open all year round, it would be very difficult.

While the directive to close shops in major marketplaces, including the capital and divisional cities, is followed, no one is forced to close shops elsewhere in the city. A corner shop at a junction must remain open until 11pm, or clothing and grocery stores in alleys must remain open until 10 PM.

In the past few days, the amount of load shedding in the country has increased. Bangladesh Power Grid Company (PGCB) has informed that the country is experiencing load shedding of 2,031 megawatts. However, according to the power distribution companies, the amount of load shedding is even higher.

Even with higher production capacity, why do we still experience load shedding? It's a valid question. To find the answer, we need to look at the management of our electricity generation, primarily fueled by coal and gas.

Currently, out of our daily electricity production of up to 5,000 megawatts, the majority, around 66%, comes from domestically sourced coal and gas. Additionally, we import approximately 2,000 megawatts of electricity from India daily. The expenses for both electricity generation and import are met in dollars. Hence, increasing electricity generation and imports will require more dollars.

Now, the main solution to get rid of load shedding is to conserve electricity. One significant aspect of conserving electricity is closing shops and markets on time. This rule should not only apply to the capital or major cities but to the entire country to make it feasible to conserve at least 2,000 megawatts of electricity daily. If this practice is implemented nationwide, it can eliminate load shedding.

The Power Division and research institutions like the Power Cell proposed a plan last year for electricity conservation after 8 PM, which would have resulted in conserving 2,000 megawatts of electricity. However, unfortunately, the government did not strictly enforce this policy throughout the year, which makes it challenging to implement. But it's a different story when it comes to enforcing the closure of shops strictly after evening hours.

Now, across the country, shops start closing around 10 PM. But if the government strictly enforces shop closure after sunset, it could save an additional 2,000 megawatts of electricity every day. This conservation effort needs to be implemented not just in summer but throughout the year. If 4,000 megawatts of electricity can be conserved every day with this measure, then over 365 days, we could save 7.3 million megawatt-hours of electricity. If the average daily demand is 15,000 megawatts, this saved electricity could last for 48 days.

Can't we all agree to buy what we need before sunset, just as we rush to buy things before the sun sets? This way, our country's energy consumption would decrease, and we would worry less about load shedding.

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