Narail, Oct 21 (UNB) – In seven decades since its establishment, the Mondol Bhag Government Primary School in Lohagra was swallowed by the Modhumoti River twice – in 2003 and 2007.
The number of its students is declining gradually for lack of teachers and school building.
Set up in 1950, the school was nationalised in 1973.
Locals said there were 350 students at the school in 2002 and the number has come down to 63 this year.
Last year, only three students took part in the Primary Education Completion (PEC) examination from this school. The number was nine in 2015, seven in 2016, and three in 2017.
A tin-shed house with four rooms was built to continue academic activities after the building was devoured by the river in 2007. That house is still being used. There is no separate room for each class.
There has been no teacher recruitment in the last five years. Teachers have urged the government to hire more teachers and build a new school building.
The school currently has three teachers. They are – Headmaster Sreepati Kumar Biswas, and assistant teachers Abu Osman Gani and Kulsum Begum.
They said it is almost impossible for three teachers to teach the students of all four grades. Attending official training, programmes and taking emergency leave by teachers hamper academic activities, they said.
Swapan Kumar Barman, acting upazila education officer, said the higher authorities have been informed about the situation. “We'll try to recruit teachers soon,” he added.
Dhaka, Oct 19 (UNB) - The Election Commission has planned to send its teams to four countries -- Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) and the United Kingdom (UK) -- to enroll Bangladeshi voters, according to its officials.
As part of enrolling the expatriates in the electoral roll of Bangladesh, the Commission earlier initiated a move for sending its team to Singapore to make them voters as a pilot project, the officials said.
They said the EC had all sorts of preparation to initiate the enrolment process by visiting Singapore in September last, but it could not send its team as it did not get the green signal from its government.
Since the Singaporean government is yet to give permission, the Commission has planned to start the voter enrolment process in four other countries as soon as possible, they added.
“We’re fully ready to go to Singapore and awaiting the permission from its government to send our team. By the time, we’ve taken a plan to go to four other countries – Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the UAE and the UK,” said Director General of the EC’s National Identity Registration Wing Brig Gen Saidul Islam.
“We’ll go to the four countries within 15 days,” he hoped adding that they have a target to go to 50 countries across the world by 2020 to enroll the expatriates in Bangladesh voter list.
The Commission will first arrange videoconferences with Bangladesh missions in the four countries before opening the process for submitting application form online by the expatriates, he told UNB.
The NID Wing DG said the EC will not go to all the countries of the world as Bangladeshis are, in fact, concentrated in some 50 countries.
The Bangladeshis staying in other countries will be able to be voters going to the nearby country where the Commission will open desks to enroll them as voters, Saidul Islam added.
The expatriates, willing to be voters, will have to fill the application forms online first. Then the NID Wing will send the application forms to the upazila election offices concerned to verify the data given in the forms to particularly keep foreign nationals, including Rohingyas, out of the voter list.
Following the data verification, the EC will send its teams to the four countries to collect biometrics – fingerprint and iris-- of the expatriates. The Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) will be used in the NID server to prevent the duplicity of voters. Then the authenticated voters will be incorporated in the NID central server.
On completion of the process, the Commission will deliver the smart NID cards to the expatriates through Bangladesh missions in the foreign lands, said officials at the NID wing.
The expatriates will be able to fill application form online from any place. Besides, the Commission will set up helpdesk in the missions to provide help over filling the forms.
About one crore expatriate Bangladeshis are now living in 165 countries of the world.
Since 1976 to 2019 (till Sept) a total of 1,26,69,389 (1.27 crore) Bangladeshis went abroad for jobs, according to the statistics of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).
The major countries having larger number of Bangladeshis include Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Malaysia, Qatar, Singapore, Kuwait and Bahrain.
Benapole, Oct 19 (UNB) – Poor infrastructures and traffic congestions are among the problems that are severely affecting trade through Benapole land port, a major gate on Bangladesh-India border.
Officials and businessmen said productions in garment and other factories in the country are seriously hampered as goods released from the port cannot be transported to their destinations in time.
Besides, they said, those who travel to India and return home face troubles as they get stuck on the road for hours together due to traffic jam.
Talking to the UNB correspondent, port officials said 500-600 truckloads of goods are exported and imported through this important land port.
Severe traffic congestions are created at the port as it does not have a truck terminal of its own, they said.
Locals said, be it day or night, there is always traffic jam of goods-laden vehicles along the Benapole road.
Trucks laden with imported goods released from the port as well as buses of ‘Souhardya Paribahan’ carrying passengers travelling between India and Bangladesh remain stuck for hours, they said.
Although the port authority has made arrangements in their own area for the maintenance of truck and bus chassis imported from India, there is no improvement in sight in the chaotic situation.
Mofizur Rahman Sujon, president of Benapole C&F Agents Association, said importers import around 80 percent of raw materials for mills and factories through Benapole. Seventy percent of export-import over land takes place through this port, he said.
On completion of formalities, a goods consignment from Kolkata moving through Petrapole land port can enter Benapole land port in just four hours’ time. Trucks with Bangladeshi goods exported from Benapole port take almost the same time to reach Kolkata, he said.
Every year, the government earns Tk 5,500 crore of revenue from this port. The trade between Bangladesh and India is being hampered for of lack of infrastructural facilities and bad traffic at the port.
Giasuddin, manager of Benapole Shaymoli Paribahan, said it takes 6 hours to reach Dhaka from Benapole but one remains stuck for two hours due to the traffic jam at Benapole port, making it hard for passengers to reach their destination in time.
According to Giasuddin, this traffic jam has been an order of the day here as the port does not have its own terminal while empty trucks are parked haphazardly.
Nuruzzaman Liton, vice president of Benapole Import-Export Association, said 1 to 1.5 lakh metric tonnes of goods are kept at Benapole port against its capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes.
Due to the space crisis, he said, the trucks that come from India with imported goods have to wait in the port area day after day for unloading, causing huge financial losses to importers and affecting the government’s revenue earnings.
In the current financial year, the government’s revenue shortfall hit Tk 800 crore (as of Sept). If the infrastructure at the port could be developed, the revenue that is earned today can be doubled, according to Nuruzzaman.
Abdul Jalil, deputy director (traffic) at the port, said a 25-acre land has been acquired for the parking of vehicles which may reduce the traffic congestions.
Dhaka, Oct 18 (UNB) - The government has initiated a move to declare a roadmap for replacing diesel-run irrigation pumps with solar-powered ones across the country.
Under the roadmap, some 100,000 diesel-operated irrigation pumps will be replaced with solar-powered ones, according to official sources.
They said Solar and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda) has been working on preparing the roadmap.
“We’ve already accommodated the views of stakeholders on the issue through organising a national workshop,” Siddique Zobair, member of Sreda and additional secretary of Power Division, told UNB.
He said Sreda is currently implementing a pilot project in Kustia in this regard.
“Once the project is completed and all the data on the pilot projects for technical and financial analysis are available, we’ll go for finalising the roadmap,” he said adding, “Hopefully, the roadmap will be declared by early next year.”
Zobair said irrigation through solar-powered pumps initially seemed to be costlier. “But in the final calculation, it was found to be cost effective and more economic than diesel-run ones,” he mentioned.
Other officials said it was found in different studies that if the diesel-run pumps are replaced with solar irrigation ones, it will bring huge benefits for the country.
Specially, they said, solar pumps will reduce the use of about 50 percent of water now the farmers are lifting for irrigation.
Explaining the matter, they said, when farmers use a solar pump for irrigation, they normally try to lift 20 percent less waster compared to the diesel-pump use.
In the solar irrigation process, the water supply to the field will be through underground plastic pipes instead of conventional use of open canals, they mentioned.
According to them, such a process will reduce another 30 percent as there will be no evaporation and sucking of water by soil.
Zobair said it was found in the study that when an open canal is used for irrigation, some 30 percent water is misused due to evaporation and sucking by soil.
So, he said, when all the positive things are considered, irrigation pumps are cost-effective and economic ones.
The Sreda officials also said one solar-run irrigation pump normally covers an area equivalent to one covered by four diesel-run irrigation pumps.
“So, if we install 100,000 solar-run irrigation pumps, it’ll ultimately replace 400,000 diesel-run irrigation pumps,” said one of the officials preferring not to be named.
He said there were 1.35 million diesel-run irrigation pumps across the country and 1,350 have been replaced with solar-run ones.
Faridpur, Oct 18 (UNB) – Agricultural lands in villages surrounding the district town is now peppered with brick kilns, posing a serious threat to the environment and crop production.
Unabated sand lifting and easy availability of top soil have fuelled their growth.
Siddiqur Rahman, general secretary of the District Brick Kiln Owners Association, blamed the “nonchalant attitude” of the local administration for the situation, insisting that they do not want the destruction of arable lands.
During a visit to C&B Ghat in the town’s Digrirchar area recently, this correspondent saw some 12 brick kilns in the area alone. Three of them at Aijuddin Matubbar Dingi are located on croplands.
Vehicles loaded with bricks, sands and logs were seen crossing roads. The mushrooming brick kilns are attracting a large number of workers from outside the district, making the areas as densely populated ones.
According to the local administration, there are 97 brick kilns in nine upazilas of the district and 10 of them are modern.
Niru Fakir, a resident of Aijuddin Matubbar Dingi area, accused the authorities concerned of giving clearance certificates ‘unethically’. “Dust and smoke from the brick kilns are making this area uninhabitable,” he said.
Sheikh Shahed Ali, a resident of Digrirchar area, said the nonstop plying of brick-laden vehicles has made the roads in the area dilapidated. The trees here are turning pale due to black smoke emitted by the brick kilns.
ABB Brick Kiln owner Arshad Ali Bepary said two brick fields have been set up beside his arable land. “I couldn’t grow any crop on my land and this eventually forced me to set up a brick kiln,” he said.
Dr Mohamamd Lutfur Rahman, deputy director of Department of Environment (DoE), Faridpur, said permission to set up brick kilns on arable lands or densely-populated areas are usually not given.
“But in some cases, clearances are given if the upazila agriculture official permits. We’ll investigate and take actions if we receive complaints about clearances given to brick kilns that are harming the environment.