Students of many schools in Koyra upazila of the district have no access to safe drinking water as the ring tube-wells set up for them have gone out of order.
There are 142 primary schools in Koyra with 29,000 students, while 32 secondary and three junior secondary schools with 13,000 students, according to sources at the district education office said.
Although a handful of tube-wells is operative but no-one could drink water from those tube-wells due to high salinity. This crisis has reached a tipping point as people are demanding that measures be taken on an emergency basis.
In order to resolve the problem of drinking water and protect children from arsenic poisoning, the government installed non-arsenic ring tube-wells at the public primary schools in the area under the PEDP-2 project in the 2013-14 financial year.
Almost Tk 1 lakh was spent on setting up each of the tube-wells.
Locals alleged that the tube-wells remained out of order as they were installed in an unplanned way.
Sources at the upazila primary education office said the tube-wells installed in various primary and secondary government schools in Modinabad Model, Goriabari, Monoroma, Koyra-6, Kashir Khal Dhar, Pathor Khali, Koyra-4, Koyra-3, Botul Bazar, Khejur Bagh, Siddikia, Mothbari, Hayatkhali, Uttarochok, Hodda DM, Pollimongol, Choukuni, Kalikapur, Bhagba and Gilabari areas have become unusable.
None of these tube-wells is coming to any use for the students and teachers, said locals.
Mentioning that there were faults while installing the tube-wells, Sukumar Thandar, headteacher of Goriabari Government Primary School, said the tube-wells worked just for a few days after they had been set up.
“The tube-wells were not installed at a depth that was required. Although there’s some water during monsoon, they’re absolutely dry in other seasons. Even if you can pump out water with a lot of effort, the salinity is too high for drinking,” he added.
According to Khogendranath Mondol, headteacher of Monoroma Government Primary School, the tube-well that was installed in the school is now out of order.
“Although there was a tube-well installed at my school, the water is too salty to drink. So, students only wash their hands and face with that water,” said Md Younus Ali, headteacher of Borobari Government Primary School.
As there is a drinking water crisis, Md Shaheb Ali, a guardian of a student at Goriabari Government Primary School, said almost all the schools are suffering from this problem.
The higher authorities have been informed about it and the tube-wells will be repaired once the budget is allocated, said Md Abul Bashar, education officer of Koyra upazila.
The new year 2020 will kick off within two weeks but Bangladesh archery has already entered into a new era as 16 archers created history by clinching all the ten gold medals in all ten events of archery discipline of the 13th South Asian Games held in Nepal from December 1 to 10.
Bangladesh finished 5th out of 7 participating countries in the games. During the 10-days, 462 Bangladeshi athletes bagged 142 medals including 19 gold, 33 silver and 90 bronze in 25 disciplines of sports. That means, 446 athletes secured 9 gold, out of 19 gold.
Apart from the archery, Bangladesh clinched gold medals in men’s and women’s cricket, fencing, weightlifting, karate.
The statistics show that Bangladesh are lagging behind all of its South Asian neighbours. Table topper India bagged 311 medals including 173 gold, hosts Nepal finished 2nd securing 206 medals including 51 gold, Sri Lanka finished 3rd securing 252 medals including 41 gold and Pakistan finished 4th with 132 medals including 32 gold.
Bangladesh are only ahead of sixth-placed Maldives and bottom-placed Bhutan. Maldives earned 5 medals including one gold and Bhutan achieved 20 medals (no gold).
Despite having the frustrating stats, Bangladeshi athletes set a new record of 19 gold in an edition since the games was introduced in 1984 also in Nepal.
The previous best performance of Bangladesh in the SA Games was 18 gold medals earned in 2010 in Dhaka while their highest number of gold medals won in a single game held in abroad was 7, in the Madras Games in 1995.
However, there is no doubt that Bangladeshi archer have gave their outstanding performances in the recent concluded regional meet. The archers touched a new milestone of claiming all-10-gold in all 10 events (singles and teams) of archery after India bagged all-10-gold in all 10 events of archery discipline in the 12th SA Games in Guwahati. It also indicates that Bangladesh’s uprising as the new super-power of world archery.
In Nepal, Bangladeshi archers bagged gold in recurve men’s singles, teams, mixed; recurve women’s singles, teams, mixed; compound men’s singles, teams, mixed and compound’s women’s singles, teams, mixed events.
Bangladeshi celebrated archer Mohammad Ruman Shana, Eti Khatun and Md Sohel Rana secured three gold medals each -- two in team events each and one in singles events while Suma Biswas secured two gold medals -- one in team events and one in singles.
Shana, Eti and Sohel were the best performers of Bangladesh in the regional games after swimmer Mosharraf Hossain Khan, who secured a record five gold medals for Bangladesh in a single edition -- three in individual events and two in relay--in the 2nd SAF Games (presently SA Games) in Dhaka in 1985.
In addition, Shana is the first Bangladeshi archer who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 on merit and won Bangladesh’s first-ever bronze medal in the World Archery Championship. The 24-year-old archer from Khulna has become the second Bangladeshi athlete to qualify for the Olympics on merit after golfer Siddikur Rahman, who took part in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
It is notable that Indian archers have not taken part in the SA Games this year as the Archery Association of India (AAI) are facing international ban attributed by the apex body of world archery World Archery Federation (WAF). So, is it the main reason behind Bangladesh’s sudden success?
While asking the question, General Secretary of Bangladesh Archery Federation (BAF) Kazi Razibuddin Ahmed Chapal replied to UNB, “We were expecting at least eight medals from archery. We, the members of South Asian Archery Federation (SAAF), tried hard to lift the ban in our Bangkok meeting ahead of the games. But we failed to manage the WAF.”
“Another thing is, India mainly focus on compound archery while we have targeted recurve events. So, I don’t think India’s absence is the main reason behind our success,” Chapal, also a member of Electoral Board of WAF, added.
While asking about the next plan, Chapal said, “We are now 7th in the Asian archery after giants like South Korea, Japan, India. Our next target is now to improve our ranking and at least claim the top slot in South Asian region beating India.”
Farmers in Chapainawabganj are struggling to contain an unidentified virus ravaging the tomato fields across the district.
No antidote is working and farmers say they fear massive loss this season.
Many farmers chose to cultivate advance species of tomato in the shoal areas. While the production and prices were both satisfactory this year, the recent spread of virus is bringing farmers to their knees.
Farmers said they had to spend Tk 20,000 to Tk 25,000 for producing tomato in each bigha (roughly 14,400 square feet) and currently the harvesting season is underway.
Although the production fell slightly this year, the price is higher compared to the last season. Each maund (37.42 kgs) of tomato is selling for Tk 1,000 to Tk 1,100.
“We were making profits but suddenly the virus started damaging the plants. Antidotes suggested by the local agriculture department officials and insecticide companies are not working,” said Aminul Islam, a tomato farmer of Debinagar area of Sadar upazila.
Another farmer Abdul Hannan said the infected plants are turning red and their production is coming down significantly. “We are very worried,” he added.
Manjurul Huda, the deputy director of local Department of Agriculture Extension, said farmers cultivated various types of hybrid tomatoes on around 1,000 hectors of land this year.
Lack of Gypsum fertilizer or use of old seeds may be behind the virus infection, he said. “We are looking into it. We’ll collect details on the virus infection and then take actions to prevent it,” he said.
A young Shukuronnessa picked up arms to liberate the country from Pakistani occupation in 1971, but nearly five decades after the independence, her struggle to find a permanent shelter for herself and her family continues.
She has been living in a hovel on a government land beside the Kumar River in Alamganda since independence. The Water Development Board has recently served her a seven-day eviction notice.
Shukuronnessa was only 22 years old when she was victimised by the Pakistani Army for helping freedom fighters but the ordeal did not stop her from fighting for the country.
She was one of the estimated 2,00,000 women who were dishonoured during the war. Bangladesh’s Founding Father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman honoured the women as ‘Biranganas’ in 1972 and the process to rehabilitate them also started at his initiative but it was stalled after his assassination.
A number of war heroines took their own lives while many others like Shukuronnessa continued their struggle.
After a High Court order in January 2014, the process to recognise Biranganas as freedom fighters started. For the first time, in October 2015, Bangladesh declared 43 Biranganas as freedom fighters.
Shukuronnessa was also among them and has been living on the government benefits.
Monirul Islam, a resident of Alamdanga, said Shukuronnessa’s recognition came after a long struggle. The 70-year-old was living with her 10-member family on the river bank but was recently ordered to vacate the place, he said.
Shukuronnessa is at a loss. “I spent 50 years of my life on the bank of the Kumar River. I had been living here with my four children after my husband’s death,” she said.
“The hut is the only shelter we have,” she said in a soft, broken voice. “If I’m evicted, I’ll be forced to live on the streets with my family in this old age. I’m worried and can’t sleep at night.”
Former commander of Alamdanga Muktijoddha unit Shafiur Rahman Jowardar sought the Prime Minister’s intervention for arranging a permanent residence for the Birangana.
Chuadanga Deputy Commissioner Nazrul Islam Sarkar said the government has taken several projects for the homeless which would facilitate thousands of people.
“It's unfortunate that a woman who sacrificed her honour and fought for our flag is now struggling to find a space for living,” he said. “I’ve instructed the Upazila Nirbahi Officer to take necessary steps to resolve the matter.”
The cacophony of migratory birds has reached its crescendo at Kodom Beel in Sharsha upazila of Jashore. The wetland has become a sanctuary for thousands of avian travellers of different species.
The picturesque sight of these winged guests finding their winter sojourn at Kodom Beel has attracted bird-lovers from all over the country.
Kodom Beel is located in Durgapur village, some 8km north of Benapole port. The lake, measuring around 75 bighas (roughly 1,00,335 square metres), mostly consists of fish farms.
Bird-lovers are captivated by the chirping and tweeting of ‘Shoraeel’, ‘Pankouri’ and ‘Donkur’ in Durgapur village. Visitors throng the sanctuary to catch a glimpse of so many colourful birds flocking together.
These winged guests come every year from thousands of miles away.
The people of Durgapur village say they remain vigilant and guard the guests of the sanctuary from poachers. At the same, the Department of Livestock Services’ Sharsha upazila office monitors the migratory birds.
The spectacular sight of the flocks of birds crowding around Kodom Beel draws a large number of visitors from nearby towns and villages. Some visitors told UNB poor transport system makes it difficult for them to visit the sanctuary.
Dr Jashim Uddin, the upazila livestock officer, said migratory birds come to several wetlands in Sharsha upazila during winter. Many poachers trap and hunt the migratory birds with air-guns at many places in the upazila.
The local Livestock Department is vigilant for proper conservation of the migratory birds at Kodom Beel and other places in the upazila, he added.