Govt moves to check diesel smuggling

The government is likely to instruct border guards to tackle smuggling of high-speed diesel into India ahead of Boro season.

Officials said a move was discussed to ensure steady supply of diesel for smooth irrigation in paddy fields in Bangladesh.

“We have discussed a move to alert BGB members in border areas as diesel price has soared by Tk 8.25 per litre in West Bengal of India compared to Bangladesh,” an official.

He disclosed the plan after attending an inter-ministerial meeting on Wednesday on diesel supply for Boro irrigation.

Diesel tariff in West Bengal has increased following a gradual hike in crude oil tariff on international market within a month.

The Energy and Mineral Resources Division (EMRD) will request the Home Ministry to take necessary steps for tackling diesel smuggling in remote border areas, he added.

Bangladesh fears that smugglers can take advantage to smuggle the petroleum fuel into India during Boro season between December 2017 and May 2018, a bulk food-grain production season in the country.

Besides, Deputy Commissioners will monitor diesel supply and its stock every month during the paddy irrigation.

The government set a target to produce about 1.91crore tonne of Boro paddy this year.

Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) has estimated about 15.56 lakh tonnes of diesel to run some 16.48 lakh deep tube-wells, shallow tube-wells, low lift pumps, power tillers and tractors during five months of Boro irrigation.

Cultivators will require some 1.52 lakh tonnes of diesel in food basket areas of northern 16 districts.

“We will start vigilance from this month to prevent any diesel stockpile or pilferage by dealers or petrol pumps ahead of Boro irrigation,” another official told the daily sun after the meeting.

Prime Minister’s Power and Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, EMRD Secretary Nazimuddin Chowdhury, BPDB Chairman Khaled Mahmood and senior official concerned attended the meeting.

During the meeting, the EMRD informed that nearly 90 percent deep tube-wells, shallow tube-wells, low lift pumps, power tillers and tractors are diesel-fired.

The requirement of the petroleum fuel is 61.50 lakh metric tonnes in the 2017-18 fiscal year. Of the requirement, a demand for diesel is 42 lakh tonnes.

Agriculture sector consumes around 26 percent of diesel during five months of the Boro irrigation period.

The BPC has already created buffer stock of diesel during the current Boro season at the Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL) in Chittagong.

Besides, the BPC has already requested Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) to ensure free from anchorage by cargo ships adjoining DOJ-5, DOJ-6, DOJ-7 jetties so that loaded oil tankers can easily move to Godnile, Fatulla, Dalutpur and other depots during the irrigation period.

The government has already been concerned over an increase in food-grain prices due to heavy flash floods that damaged 40 lakh tonnes of food grains.

So, the government is extended its monitoring system this year to get more production, the official mentioned.

The meeting also instructed the Shipping Ministry to dredge Dhaka-Baghabari and Dhaka-Chilmari river routes.

“We are concerned about smooth supply of diesel on Jamuna river route and Baghabari deport due to lack of dredging in Boral River,” a BPC official said.

The BPC, however, imported diesel at $59 per barrel in June 2017, which increased to $ 76 in November 2017, another official said.

The import price of furnace oil increased to $380 per tonne from $ 280-300, he added.