Although imported gas is being transported to Chittagong through Cox’s Bazar, the district itself does not have access to that gas, causing grievance among the locals.
The imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) is supplied to Chittagong through Sonadia, which is located in Cox’s Bazar’s Moheshkhali upazila.
The district, inhabited by about 2.3 million people, is being modernized due to being an important hub for tourism in the country.
Locals and business owners in the district are feeling deprived as no initiative was taken to supply gas in the region, although gas is being delivered to Chittagong through their district.
Cox’s Bazar, home to the longest stretch of natural sea beach in the world, brings millions of foreigners and local tourists every year.
With a focus on the tourism sector, the government has several development projects ongoing in the district including a dual-gauge rail link between Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, Matarbari coal-based power plant project in Moheshkhali, and construction of Sabrang Tourism Park in Teknaf. Moreover, development of the Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar Highway into a four lane has been ongoing.
Abu Morshed Chowdhury Khoka, president of Cox’s Bazar Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said: “There is no alternative to supplying gas connection to expand tourism in Cox’s Bazar. If residents of Cox’s Bazar could avail gas from the pipe-line that has gone to Chittagong through Cox’s Bazar’s Sonadia, it would contribute to develop the tourism industry. Additionally, it would enable consumers to use gas at a lower price.”
Md Kalim Ullah, organizing secretary of a local civilain’s organization “Amra Cox’s Bazarbashi Shongothon” said: “To my knowledge, gas lifted from the Kutubdiya Gas Field (in Cox’s) is being supplied to the national grid. Similarly gas imported by ships is being transported to the national grid through Sonadia. The pipelines transporting gas are so close yet it’s not supplied to the residents of Cox’s Bazar. I see this as a discrimination against 23 lakh people in Cox’s Bazar.”
Mokhim Khan, general secretary of Kalatali Marine Drive Road Hotel-Motel Owners’ Association, said: “Every year the government gets millions in taxes from the tourism sector. If gas were supplied to us, our cost would have decreased. If gas is supplied to Cox’s Bazar similar to Dhaka and Chittagong, the government could earn more in taxes.”
Md Kamal Hossain, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar district, said: “For now there has been no initiative of supplying gas in the district. No parties have made any demands yet regarding the matter. We will talk to higher authorities if installing a gas connection is deemed important in future.”
According to sources, as per the government’s initiative of importing gas in 2010, the country’s first floating gas terminal began operation in Moheshkhali of Cox’s Bazar from 2018.
The floating terminal was brought from Qatar that year and anchored at Sonadia Island, when it had also brought the first batch of imported gas. Bangladesh has a contract signed with Qatar, as per which it would supply 2.5 million metric tons of LNG each year.
On 18th August of 2018, gas supply from the terminal started to Chittagong. From the second week of August this year, a new route through Sonadia is being used to supply imported gas in the port city, Chittagong.