Dhaka, May 16 (UNB) – The arrangements taken by the government for performing hajj this year by Bangladeshi Muslims are now much better than in the past, said State Minister for Religious Affairs Sheikh Md Abdullah.
“We’ve taken strict measures to make sure there’s no lacking in this year’s hajj management,” Sheikh Abdullah said in an interview with UNB recently.
Abdullah said no pilgrim can illegally stay in Saudi Arabia once the hajj is over.
He said the Bangladeshi Muslims intending to perform hajj now can complete the immigration procedure from Dhaka airport before heading towards Saudi Arabia. “It’ll come into effect this year.”
Abdullah further told UNB that the authorities have taken actions, including fine and cancellation of licences, against the hajj agencies that indulged in irregularities.
He mentioned that the Bangladesh government has informed the Saudi government about the housing hazards of Bangladeshi pilgrims. “The Saudi government has confirmed that the Bangladeshi nationals will be given better facilities.”
Abdullah said the two proposed hajj packages under the government arrangements are Tk 418,500 and 344,000 respectively, while the lowest package under the private arrangement is Tk 344,000.
This year, he said, a total of 127,198 people will be able to perform hajj from Bangladesh. Among them, some 1,12,000 will go under private management and 7,198 under government management.
The State Minister said the plane fare this year has been fixed at Tk 128,000 against last year’s Tk 138,191.
Those performing hajj in 2019 must have their Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) valid until February 10, 2020.
He lauded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to improve the hajj arrangement process saying, “Every time she (PM) ascended to power she made arrangements to provide maximum services to pilgrims. Still, she’s taking various steps to increase facilities for pilgrims.”
Besides, the junior minister said, the government is working to digitalise the management of Islamic Foundation. “The Islamic Foundation management will become more transparent.”
He mentioned the government’s new project to establish 560 model mosques across the country. “We’ve already called for tender proposals.”
About extending support to imams and muazzins through a welfare fund, the State Minister said, “We’re considering giving them allowances from the Imam Welfare Fund.”
Faridpur, May 16 (UNB) – Despite initial optimism over a bumper yield, lychee farmers in Faridpur are increasingly worried about the damage inflicted on this season’s crop by the prolonged heat wave over the last few days, that now looks likely to saddle them with losses.
According to sources at the district’s Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) office, this year’s crop of lychees - the small, juicy fruit is close to 82 percent water - were damaged due to prolonged heat wave that bred a drought-like situation for the last several days.
They also said Cyclone Fani -- that passed over the country on May 4 – damaged many lychee orchards.
During a recent visit to the lychee orchards in Madhukhali, Boalmari and Sadar upazilas of the district, our correspondent found that the inedible outer layer of the lychees had cracked, the usually red exterior with black spots, while many had dropped from the tree.
Farmers of the district worried whether they would get a good, or at least fair price or not, even as the women and children in their families were seen passing busy time in their orchards collecting lychees and preparing those for selling in the local market.
Traders who bought the whole orchard from the owners are in doubt whether they will be able to return their capital in this season.
Rashedul Islam Babu, a lychee grower of Jahapur in Madhukhali upazila, said they failed to maintain the quality of lychee with their distinctly sweet, juicy taste, after using more pesticide, fertilizer and medicine than expected.
Farid Ahmed, a farmer of Kadirdi in Boalmari upazila, said “I have brought a vast tract of land under lychee cultivation as it is more profitable than other crops. Though I have got profit by cultivating lychee in the past, this year I’m worried of getting the capital money.”
Shahidul Islam Majnu, chairman of Ishan Gopalpur union in Sadar upazila, said at first it seemed that the production of lychee will be better this year but at the end of this season the production of the juicy fruit is decreasing due to rise in temperature and poor rainfall.
Kantik Chandra Chakrawarty, deputy director of Faridpur, DAE, said this year a total of 300 hectares of land have been brought under lychee cultivation with a target of producing eight metric tons of lychee from each hectare., i.e. 2400MT of lychees.
For getting good yield of lychee, the farmers have to use medicine and water the orchard twice a day before harvesting, he said.
Chakrawarty also asked the growers to nurture his/her orchard carefully.
Besides, the lychees of the district are available in Dhaka, Barishal, Munshiganj, Manikganj and other districts.
Shahidul Islam, a lychee trader in Dohar upazila in Dhaka, acknowledged the lychees of Faridpur district are indeed special. “It is being harvested one month before the harvesting period and there is a demand for Faridpuri lychee from the buyers due to its sweet, full taste.”
This year though, they may have to go without it.
Dhaka, May 15 (UNB)-The government is contemplating a number of projects for the development of the railway sector, aiming to provide better services to passengers.
According to an official document, the future plans include transforming Dhaka-Chattogram corridor into dual gauge and constructing speedy railway for Dhaka-Chittagong line.
The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) has already approved the revised project to construct 72 kms dual-gauge double rail-track from Akhaura to Laksham, involving Tk 6,504 crore.
Bangladesh Railway will implement the project named 'Construction of Dual Gauge Double Rail Line and Conversion of Existing Rail Line into Dual Gauge between Akhaura and Laksam', by June 2020. The total length of the two dual gauge rail lines would be 144 kilometers.
The existing Dhaka-Chittagong rail link is 320km long, but the proposed route length will be 230km. The proposed route will go through Narayanganj and connect Comilla or Lakhsam on the existing Dhaka-Chittagong route.
Besides, some technical assistant projects will be implemented under the Multimodal Transport Project Preparatory Facilities.
These projects included conducting feasibility study and detailed design for constructing a parallel bridge beside the existing Hardinge bridge.
Besides, figuring out the future demand of rolling stock and conducting feasibility study to transfer, reconstruction and constructing of new infrastructure for preserving rolling stock.
Conducting feasibility study and detailed design to construct a new parallel broad gauge rail line beside the existing one in Abdulpur-Rajshahi and Abdulpur-Santahar-Parbotipur section.
The plan also include transformation of meter gauge to dual gauge in Satahar-Bogra-Kaunia-lalmonirhat section. Besides, another parallel dual gauge will be constructed and feasibility study and detailed design will be done for it.
Bhairab Bazar- Mymensing meter gauge section will be turned in to dual gauge with a new parallel dual gauge line.
Under the plan, feasibility study and detailed design will be done to establish a parallel dual gauge line with the existing meter gauge line in the Akhaura-Sylhet section.
Besides, a future plan will be formulated for expansion of core and non-core business of the railway side by side improving the service for the passengers in all important stations of Bangladesh Railway through infrastructural development and controlling the entrance in the stations.
The plan include reconstruction of Jashor-Benapole broad gauge line and transformation of meter gauge into dual gauge of the Jamalpur-Tarakandi-Bangabandhu Bridge east side.
Kurigram, May 15 (UNB)- Over 40,000 residents of 20 villages in Ulipur upazila have been having a tough time commuting after a key bridge on a water body was damaged shortly after its construction.
Although locals blame the use of low-grade materials, project officials claim that the bridge partially caved in during the 2015 flood because of its small size.
The 36-foot bridge was built on ‘Sakor Par Beel’ connecting Buraburi Bazar and Janatarhaat by the government at a cost of Tk 27 lakh. The contractor company was Hamid Traders.
Once the bridge became unusable, locals raised funds and built two makeshift structures on both ends to connect to the remaining structure of the bridge. The wood and bamboo structures are supported by bamboo columns that can collapse at any moment.
People use the bridge ignoring the risks. Locals said it is the most important means of communication for over 40,000 people. Farmers have to pay extra to take their crops to market by another distant route.
Rezaul Islam, a resident of Buraburi union, said he was using this route because the alternative one was distant. He pushed his motorcycle over the makeshift bridge.
Shamshul Islam, a local, recounted how they protested against the contractor who used low-grade sand but the then chairman sided with the construction firm.
“Our protest went in vain and the bridge partially caved in months after it was built,” he said.
Md Rabiul Islam, Ulipur upazila project implementation officer, insisted that the bridge’s construction work had no fault and that it might have been damaged due to huge water pressure during flood.
“A 60-70 feet long bridge is needed on the Beel. I’ve advised the Upazila Nirbahi Officer to have the bridge built by some other government agencies,” he said.
Ulipur UNO Md Abdul Kader said that he was investigating how the bridge was damaged and would “soon” file a report to the concerned authorities.
Chuadanga, May 15 (UNB) – Random dumping of waste across Chuadanga Sadar Hospital is a growing concern for the health of patients and visitors to the hospital complex. Even the hospital authorities acknowledged the risks despite their failure to provide answers over proper disposal of the waste.
Upon visiting the complex, the UNB correspondent discovered medical waste lying exposed at several open spots. A few cleaners were seen dumping drums full of garbage within the hospital boundary.
Sanjid, one of the cleaners, said the dumping of waste from wards in open spaces within the hospital complex is the norm in the hospital, which the municipality’s dumping trucks take away the following morning. He could not provide information about what happens with the garbage after that.
A visitor of an in-patient, Golam Kibria, said the odor produced by wastages around the hospital has created an unbearable situation for everyone.
Chuadanga Sadar Hospital Resident Medical Officer (RMO) Dr Shamim Kabir highlighted the lack of manpower, saying, “We’ve to provide service to hundreds of patients with limited manpower. So, there’s increased amount of waste produced.”
Dr Kabir acknowledged that the unregulated dumping of wastages can cause serious harm to people and compromise the hospital environment.
Civil Surgeon Dr Khairul Alam told UNB that the waste produced from the patients and operations require special incineration machine for proper disposal which the hospital does not have and the authorities are concerned about it.
But he assured that the authorities have already sent a letter to the Health Ministry for establishing a waste treatment plant at Chuadanga Sadar Hospital.
Locals said they want words to translate into action and the proper disposal of waste produced at the hospital.