10yr max jail for Sabotage on power infrastructure

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The provision for punishment was incorporated in the draft of “The Power Bill, 2016” Bangladesh approved today.

The Cabinet approved the draft in principle at its regular meeting in Dhaka today, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The draft will have to be passed by the parliament to make it a law, before enforcement of the punishment. The new law is being enacted with modifications on the existing law of 1910.

The jail term of maximum 10 years and minimum seven years, and a penalty of Tk100 million, or both, could be applicable for carrying out any act of sabotage destroying or damaging any electricity infrastructure like power stations, sub-stations, transmission and distribution lines, poles and equipment.

The government is going to enact the law at a time when electricity infrastructure of the country is stated to be at the risks of sabotage. The apprehension emerged after the recent terrorist attacks at a Gulashan restaurant in Dhaka and Sholaki eid congregation.

Securities at the major power installations across the country have already been intensified following the incidents.

The draft law has also a provision for introducing independent system operator (ISO) to operate the power system in a coordinated manner.

“The new law will have translation in Bangla as well as some new issues added to the existing law,” Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam told a press briefing after the meeting.

In accordance with the draft, posts of Chief Power Inspector and other staff would be created under the Power Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, aimed at giving responsibilities of primary inspection before providing electricity connections.

A special intelligence body would also be established comprising members from different agencies to prevent illegal connections and other related crimes.

The Cabinet Secretary said a definition of ‘licensee’ has been added in the draft to facilitate Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to provide license for production, distribution and supply of electricity.

As a result, no person or organisation will be allowed to generate, transmit, distribute or supply electricity without prior approval of the government.

The use of electricity by any person or organisation without permission of the government will be considered as ‘pilferage’.

Individual or organisation concerned will be awarded maximum three years of jail or a fine of double the value of the electricity used or Tk50,000 for illegally using electricity.

“The punishment will be five years of jail or a fine of double the value of the electricity used or Tk100,000 in the case of the use of electricity illegally by any industrial or commercial establishment,” said the cabinet secretary.

In such case, whoever is engaged in providing electricity through sub-connections will get two years’ imprisonment or be fined up to Tk1 million or both the punishment.

Besides, those who will be engaged in taking sub-connections will be sentenced to three years of jail with Tk10,000 as fine.

The cabinet secretary said the new law has proposed bringing the power cell under a legal framework which now runs under administrative arrangements.


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