Khulna, Sept 30 (UNB) - At least 193 people have been tested HIV positive in the country’s eight southern districts, says a report released by a local voluntary organisation.
Among the affected people, 84 (53 men and 31 women) have been tested HIV positive in Khulna district alone while 109 in Jhenidah, Gopalganj, Jashore, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Narail, and Magura districts, according to Mukto Akash Bangladesh (MAB), the voluntary organisation that works on AIDS-related issues.
Contacted, Civil Surgeon of Khulna Dr Abdur Razzak told UNB that they cross-checked the findings released by MAB and found those correct.
According to the report, expatriates returning from abroad, including India, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the USA are responsible for spreading the lethal virus in the districts.
No HIV virus, the report says, was detected among sex workers of the district while a hijra (transgender) was found to be carrying HIV.
The number of deaths caused by HIV is rapidly going in the southern districts, the report mentions.
It says the worst affected areas among the districts are Benapole, Chaugachha, and Khulna town as the workers of those areas frequently visit various countries, mostly India, for their works and carry back the lethal virus.
In the eight districts, the MAB report reveals, at least 59 people died of AIDS in 14 years spanning between 2013 -2017 while the number of deaths was 12 in 2015 and 2016 together, while 12 in 2017 alone.
Sources at Khulna Medical College and Hospital said at least 31 HIV patients underwent treatment at the hospital this year and three of them died.
MAB coordinator Rehena Begum said their organisation is working on raising awareness among people about the deadly disease and providing nutritional and medical support to the HIV patients.
Dhaka, Sept 30 (UNB) - Bangladesh can be a prime destination for foreign tourists who wish to visit any Asian country if required facilities like a vibrant night life for tourists and digital promotional activities could be ensured, says an expert.
“What we’ve are extraordinary, natural and God-gifted ones. But we need to do much more to attract foreign tourists in line with their desires,” Dr M Afjal Hossain, a professor of Dhaka University’s Tourism and Hospitality Management department, told UNB.
The direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was Tk 427.5 bn or 2.2 percent of total GDP in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 6.1 percent in 2018, according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) data.
In 2017, travel and tourism directly supported 1,178,500 jobs (1.8 percent of total employment). This is expected to rise by 3.0 percent in 2018.
Since Bangladesh is witnessing rapid development with growing infrastructure, he said, the tourism sector will be able to contribute to the national economy in a big way within next five years with increased number of foreign and domestic tourists.
“Bangladeshi people are hospitable and friendly ones. We’ve stability. We’re no more a country of ‘bottomless basket’ or a country of beggars. We need to communicate these positive things about Bangladesh with foreigners,” said Prof Afjal.
He laid emphasis on massive promotional activities using digital technology and digital platforms and highlighting positive Bangladesh abroad.
Stressing the importance of smooth connectivity, the tourism sector expert said if foreign tourists can visit the prime locations of Bangladesh at the shortest possible time, foreigners will feel encouraged to come to Bangladesh.
“Foreign tourists want comfortable journeys and cover maximum locations at the shortest possible time (considering time and budget),” said Prof Afjal.
Responding to a question, the expert said a foreign tourist must be given at least 10 hours of 24 hours to spend happily in any tourism spot. “We need to have theatre hall, open stage, musical event and theme park. Only sea beach is not enough to spend 10 hours. We need to offer more.”
He said it is not true that foreign tourists will come to Bangladesh only to take wine. “But some tourists may ask for wine. We don’t have something called ‘night life’. We need to have Bars … we don’t have any problem if they take it in exclusive zones.”
Talking about the budget, Prof Afjal said the budgetary allocation that the tourism sector gets annually is not adequate at all.
He said some 8.4 lakh foreigners visit Bangladesh annually but the pure tourists are very limited. On the other hand, some 1.37 crore domestic tourists visit tourism spots in the country annually.
“We need to boost foreign tourists’ inflow. And we hope the number of domestic tourists will exceed 4-5 crore annually,” Prof Afjal said.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shajahan Kamal on Thursday urged the students and young generation to positively represent the tourism sector of Bangladesh all across the world through social media like Facebook and Twitter.
He said in many countries tourism is considered as a major source of economy. “If we want to develop our tourism industry, we must use digital platforms for promoting our tourism industry to attract foreign tourists.”
Despite having huge potential, Minister Kamal said, Bangladesh is yet to ensure required facilities for the foreign tourists in the country.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Secretary M Mohibul Haque said the government wants to work round the year for the development of the tourism industry and laid emphasis on coordinated efforts for branding Bangladeshi tourism products abroad.
As one of the world’s largest economic sectors, travel and tourism creates jobs, drives exports, and generates prosperity across the world.
In WTTC’s annual analysis of the global economic impact of travel and tourism, the sector is shown to account for 10.4 percent of global GDP and 313 million jobs, or 9.9 percent of total employment in 2017.
Cumilla, Sept 27 (UNB) - Acute shortage of teachers and administrative staff in Comilla Medical College has brought the medical institution to its knees, leaving its academic activities in disarray.
Since its establishment in 1992, the medical college did not see any increase in its manpower, sources at the college said.
They said it has become very difficult for the college administration to properly conduct academic activities in the 25-year-old institution.
At present, there are only 146 teaching staff for around 614 students of the college, while 58 posts have remained vacant for years, according to the sources.
Contacted, Principal of the college Dr Mohsin-uz-Zaman Chowdhury told UNB that there is no professor in its Anatomy, Physiology, Community Medicine, Micro Biology and Pharmacology departments at present.
“So, we’ve to run the academic activities with assistant professors, lecturers and gust teachers,” he added.
Some of the students of the medical college said the basic subjects are being taught in the first two years of the session and the college authorities have been arranging teachers from other private medical colleges as gust-lecturers to avoid any session jam. But this is how, they said, they are compromising the quality of education. “In fact, we’re facing difficulties in completing courses,” said a teacher wishing anonymity.
Asked about it, the Principal said, "We couldn’t increase the number of teaching staff though requisition letters were sent to the authorities concerned several times. Even, the post granted by the University Grants Commission (UGC) still remain vacant.”
Despite the crisis, Dr Mohsin said, they are trying to continue the academic activities of the college.
Lalmonirhat, Sept 26 (UNB) - Lalmonirhat Airport remains unused for the last five decades as authorities failed to take any initiative to make it usable for boosting economic activity in the region.
Abandoned after the partition of this Subcontinent in 1947, the airport land is now used as a farmland under the supervision of Bangladesh Air Force (BAF).
During the Second World War, the then British ruler built the ‘Lalmonirhat Airport’ on some 1,166 acres of land. In 1958, the airport had launched its operation for a short range of area.
After Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, a decision was taken to turn it into a BAF headquarters, but there has been no initiative so far to implement the decision. The abandoned airport has a four-km long runway, a huge tarmac, a hangar and taxiway.
The BAF authorities initiated an agricultural project on the land in 1983 and it is being used as an agricultural farmland since then. Cattle farms are also operated there under the BAF supervision.
If this airport could be brought back to life, experts said, the people of 13 countries, including Nepal, Bhutan and India, can come to visit Bangladesh at minimum costs.
A source at the Maintenance Unit of Lalmonirhat Air Force, wishing anonymity, told UNB that the government of Bhutan has kept the airport on its wish list for use, but there has been no progress in this regard as there are some complexities between the two countries over the airspace.
The airport can be used if the governments of three countries—Bangladesh, India and Bhutan—can take a joint initiative to use it under a tripartite deal.
Lalmonirhat Municipality Mayor Riajul Islam Rintu said, “Once the airport resumes its operation, development activities in the region will get a tremendous boost.”
Sirajul Haq, director of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Lalmonirhat, said economic activity in the region will be spurred if the airport goes back into operation.
Dhaka, Sept 26 (UNB) – Although only 20 percent work on the Single Point Mooring (SPM) project taken to transport imported raw petroleum to the state-owned refinery in Chattogram has completed in 21 months, Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) still hopes the project work will end timely by December 2019.
The BPC signed a contract with Chinese firm China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau (CPP) on December 7, 2016 last to implement the ‘SPM with Double Pipeline’ project by December 2019 at a cost of $550.40 million.
The government undertook the project with a special emphasis to reduce both the time and cost to directly receive crude petroleum from deep sea vessels at the country’s only refinery in the public sector.
At present, large vessels carrying crude oil are anchored in the deep sea and state-owned BPC uses some lighterage vessels to transport imported raw petroleum to state-owned Eastern Refinery Limited (ERL) in Chattogram.
Under the SPM project, a total of 220-km pipeline will be installed in the Bay of Bengal to transport imported crude and refined oil.
As per the deal, Chinese state-run CPP is supposed to implement the project as EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) in the next 36 months from the signing of the agreement.
Although 19 months have elapsed since the signing of the deal, only necessary survey works were carried out and now the design work is underway to start the physical construction work.
“The survey has been completed and now work on design is going on. We hope the physical work will start soon on completion of the design work,” Mozammel Haque, BPC director (Planning and Development), told UNB.
BPC officials said the survey work required enough time as those included various activities like feasibility study as well.
Explaining the necessity of the project, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said it will help save Tk 1,000 crore a year as there will be no need to use lighterage vessels to transport the raw petroleum.
He said the SPM could be effectively used by the private sector importers as well.
BPC officials said the total cost of the project was estimated at Tk 5426.26 crore where the Chinese Exim Bank will finance Tk 4293.12 crore and the Bangladesh government will provide Tk 1021.19 crore and the remaining Tk 111.95 will be invested by BPC from its own fund.
ERL currently refines 1.5 million tonnes of crude petroleum annually. On completion of the unit -2, its capacity will increase to 4.5 million tonnes.
The SPM will have an annual unloading capacity of 9 million. It will be able to unload 120,000 tonnes of crude oil in 48 hours and 70,000 tonnes of diesel in 28 hours.
BPC officials said the main objectives of the SPM project include simplifying and accelerating the unloading process of imported crude oil and finished products, lessening time for crude oil and high speed diesel (HSD) unloading and lowering the unloading cost of imported crude oil and finished products by eliminating lightering process.
Increasing the capacity to process crude oil to meet increased demand of the country, construction of a tank farm at Maheshkhali in Cox’s Bazar as an emergency oil storage backup and increasing finished product storage facilities to ensure energy security of the country are also among the main purposes of the SPM project, they said.
Officials said the SPM project will have supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) & Communication System and also includes construction of three crude oil tanks (each of net capacity 50,000 m³), three HSD tanks (each of net capacity 30,000 m³), main pumps, booster pumps and other pumps, installation of generator for power supply, housing facilities, administration and other buildings, pigging system, custody metering system, security system and firefighting system.