Khulna, Oct 15 (UNB) – Ahad Ali Sheikh of Dumuria is actually a shrimp farmer by profession. Farming shrimp on 2.5 acres of land taken on lease in Nolghona Beel, he somehow managed to earn his livelihood.
His fortunes have, however, changed dramatically after he planted watermelon seeds along the aisle of the fish enclosure this year during monsoon -- off season. He sold watermelon worth Tk one lakh this year.
Ahad Ali is not alone. There are many in the upazila who have made profit by growing watermelon on their unused lands of fish enclosures.
Shawkat Dhali who lives in the same village sold watermelons worth Tk two lakh. Samad Dhali and some others in the village also saw successes by growing watermelons in their fish enclosures.
Yunus Fakir of Andulia, Mrittujoy of Choto Bondo and Alimuzzaman of Golna all planted watermelon on a one-acre aisle. Mizanur Rahman Sheikh of Kulbariya sold watermelon worth Tk five lakh from a two-acre of land.
According to Md Mosaddek Hossain, agriculture officer of Dumuria upazila, watermelon is a very good cash-crop and a farmer may get double the usual price if it is grown in an off-season.
Watermelons grown in fish enclosure manchas are hardly affected by insects. Since Golda shrimps are cultivated in these enclosures, one has to be careful about applying pesticides and the use of pesticides comes down during monsoon.
“A lot of irrigation is needed to grow seasonal watermelon but when you grow watermelon in the monsoon, you don’t need that much of irrigation,” Mosaddek described.
The lifespan of a watermelon is 65-70 days. With less time and investment, watermelon farming during monsoon is a highly profitable crop, he said adding that many farmers will show interest to grow watermelon in the next monsoon due to the good yield this year and the price being double, he said.
Once the only Aman rice used to be cultivated in the southern region, including Dumuria, leaving fields fallow throughout the year.
Golda shrimp farming has become popular in this region over the last two decades. Afterwards, rice and vegetables were grown in fish enclosures alongside shrimp. Now, off-season watermelon cultivation has been the latest addition.
Watermelon is available round the year in many countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Earlier, watermelon was available in Bangladesh only during the Chaitra and Boishakh months. Now, watermelon is grown during monsoon and the yield is quite impressive. Farmers are getting higher prices, too.
Dhaka, Oct 14 (UNB) – Littering, a nagging cultural problem, continues to ruin the beauty and environment of the capital city due to the apathy of the authorities concerned and lack of awareness among people and enforcement of law, say experts.
They also said the mayors of the two city corporations had promised to make Dhaka a beautiful and clean city, but they have so far failed to come up with any well-though-out plan, action and campaign programme to address the problem.
The types of littering the capital city face include dropping of plastic and other bottles, cans, cigarette butts, cigarette packets, papers, paper bags, waste from different food items, coconut shells, tissue papers, domestic refuse, vegetable matter, clothes and hard waste.
In 2016, the two city corporations set up around 6,700 trash bins to check littering, but most of those got disappeared within a year. Urban experts think inappropriate bins, unplanned installation, lack of maintenance and public awareness are the key reasons behind the failure of this initiative.
Talking to UNB, Prof Nazrul Islam, a renowned urban expert, said littering problem is getting worse gradually in the capital for lack of good governance and the irresponsible attitude of the two city corporations.
He said people are also not aware of littering and they throw waste everywhere without thinking its bad effect. “If you look around, you’ll find trashes and litters everywhere. So, we need to raise awareness among people to change their littering habit.”
Stating that littering is a social crime which affects the environment, Nazrul said the government should enforce law and fine people who litter and the shop owners who cannot keep their premises clean.” “There’s no littering problem in Dhaka Cantonment area as people there obey the law and aware of bad effects of littering.”
Environment activist and architect Iqbal Habib said littering is considered as a crime and people responsible for it are fined in many cities across the world. So, the authorities should make littering a social crime in Dhaka and penalise people for committing it.”
He said though the two mayors promised to turn Dhaka into a clean and beautiful city, the capital has become an ugly one with widespread littering. “The mayors did not take any well-planned measure and build durable infrastructures to resolve the problem.”
Habib said there is no trash bins within in two-three kilometer areas along the rods to dump wastes in Dhaka city. “In Singapore, you’ll find three-four bins within a half kilometer area with warnings of getting fined of $100 if any one litter. We need such system.”
He said two Dhaka City Corporation installed faulty and unsuitable trash bins in an unplanned way that is why those were either stolen or got damaged. “Sophisticated and durable trash bins were set up at Hatirjheel in a planned way several years back and all of those still remain intact.”
Habib said local community must be involved with the efforts to address the littering problem. “Community’s problem should be resolved with the participation of community members. We can create volunteers in every area who will detect people indulging in littering and make them aware of the problem.”
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) Chairman Abu Naser Khan said lettering is mainly a cultural problem. “People who are coming to city from rural areas or living in it can’t adopt the urban culture. That’s why they used to litter here and there as their bad habit.”
He said it is the main duty of the city corporation to keep the city clean, but they are being miserably failed to play their role in this regard.
“Our government, city corporations and other authorities concerned don’t consider littering is a serious problem. That is why this problem is persisting and worsening,” he said.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) General Secretary MA Matin said littering on the roads and here and there has become a phenomenon in Dhaka while the awareness level among the city dwellers about the problem is still very low.
““Littering is a big problem in many cities, but it’s a serious problem in Dhaka as it’s an over populated mega city while the numbers of its residents are growing day by day. No effective step has so far taken to address it,” he said
Matin aid littering is not only running the beauty of the capital, but also seriously affecting the environment and causing air, soil and water pollution. “This issue needs to be taken seriously by both the authorities and the city dwellers.”
Narail, Oct 14 (UNB) – Twenty-five families, who have kept the boat-making craftsmanship alive for smooth movement in the monsoon, are struggling to keep their heads above water in summer.
Residents of the densely-populated deltaic country face difficulty moving in the rainy season when many roads go under water in low-lying areas. Boats then become an essential tool for commuting, particularly in remote villages.
But boat making is now a dying art. Fortunately, some members of 25 families in Dahar Ramsidhi village in Bashgram union of Narail Sadar upazila have kept the profession of making boats alive for generations.
The people of the area throng the boat market every year ahead of monsoon and buy different types of wooden boats every Wednesday. The artisans display at least 70 to 80 boats every week.
Boat craftsman Nikhil Biswas, 50, of Ramsidhi said the people of his village have been making boats for many generations.
They make boats for five months (Bengali month Ashar to Kartik) for their survival but face trouble when the demand for boats decline in summer, he added.
Craftsmen Shishir Shikder, 65, and Swapan Shikder of the village said making a boat needs three labourers. “A boat can be smoothly used for two years but using tar can prolong the period to five years,” he said.
Sushen Mollick, 35, of the village said nowadays the demand for boats is declining and profit from making boats is also not enough.
Another boat artisan Sanjoy Biswas said it costs about Tk 3,000 to make a small boat. “The profit is not enough for livelihood if a boat is sold for Tk 3,500 to Tk 4,000,” he added.
SM Nadim Hossain, deputy administrator of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) in Narail, said he has already heard about the boat-making industry.
He said they will discuss providing loans to the boat artisans.
“I'll contact the craftsmen soon and will speak with higher officials about helping the people involved in this profession,” he added.
Dhaka, Oct 13 (UNB) – Japan never forces any of its friends in South Asia and beyond to make a choice between Japan and China but recognises that both are important relationships for any country including Bangladesh, says a Japanese Professor and international affairs expert based in Tokyo.
“We know these are two (China-Japan) important relationships (for all of you),” Dr Masayuki Tadokoro, Professor of International Relations at Keio University, Tokyo told UNB.
He said they never ask their friends to “downgrade or downscale” their relations with China but expects them to maintain the very basic principles – freedom of navigation, rule of law and market economy.
Bangladesh and Japan shared the ideas of a “free and open” Indo-Pacific for the stability and prosperity of the international community by building the rules-based order, grounded in common values such as freedom, rule of law and market economy.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic visit to Dhaka in 2016, Bangladesh formally joined the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, a drive which has already drawn the close attention of the world.
Terming China an important trading partner of South Asian countries, Prof Tadokoro said they are not interested in forcing any country to make a choice between Chinese and Japanese idea of assistance.
The former Prof at the National Defense Academy, however, said they would ask their friends to remain “cautious” about those projects if there are conditions or elements which might compromise very basic principles of international order.
He said what Japan has been doing is basically supporting local efforts and Japanese ODA (Official Development Assistance) is totally different from others.
Asked what the free and open Indo-Pacific offers for a country like Bangladesh, the Japanese international affairs expert said, “You have to request (on what kind of projects you want).”
“As long as it is sustainable and feasible project that benefits your country, we’re happy to support it. You’ve to come up with your own idea and own project,” he added.
Responding to another question, Prof Tadokoro said the free and open Indo-Pacific Strategy is not a counter initiative to China-initiated BRI but they are aware of Chinese projects. “We’ve no intention to counter Chinese efforts. As long as it (BRI) is transparent we’ve nothing against it.”
The Japanese Prof said they are trying to promote a certain kind of regional and international order meaning that they want to maintain freedom of navigation, rule of law and most importantly want to see the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean “absolutely critical for basic survival” of all.
“It must not be controlled by any single country. It must be open and accessible to anybody under the existing international laws,” he added.
In August 2016, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his vision for “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” to ensure international public goods.
Japan highlights three key areas to realise a free and open Indo-Pacific – promotion and establishment of the rule of law, freedom of navigation and free trade; pursuit of economic prosperity and commitment for peace and stability, according to Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The history of Japan’s development cooperation embodies the basic stance of Japan as a peace-loving nation, and is a practice of “proactive contribution to people” based on the principle of international cooperation, said the Japanese MoFA.
Bangladesh expressed its intention to advance economic and social development, and Japan expressed its intention to continuously support Bangladesh’s efforts for becoming a middle income country, said the officials here.
Bangladesh extended its gratitude for Japan’s decision to provide a loan of approximately 132.7billion yen for the projects aimed to construct Matarbari Port, Araihazar Special Economic Zone and Dhaka MRT Line 1 as well as to promote energy efficiency and conservation financing.
Satkhira, Oct 13 (UNB) – Shamim Billah, an accused in the Buet student Abrar Fahad murder case, was known in the locality as a brilliant, polite and gentleman. He used to remain so bogged down in his study during his school and college life that he had hardly been able to join any sports event.
But this humble boy got involved with the politics of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) after enrolling for the honours course at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet). His association with the student politics and alleged involvement in the Abrar murder has taken the family as well as locals by surprise.
Abrar, 21, a second-year student of electrical and electronic engineering department of Buet, was beaten to death reportedly by BCL leaders Sher-e-Bangla Hall of the university. He was found dead on the staircase of the dormitory in the early hours of October 7 after he was taken to room-2011 around 8pm on October 6.
Victim’s father Barkatullah filed a case with Chawkbazar Police Station against 19 people, including Shamim, over the murder.
The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) arrested Shamim from Khanpur in Shyamnagar upazila of the district on Friday and took him to Dhaka.
Devastated by his arrest, his mother Salima Khatun fainted repeatedly.
Shamim, son of bus driver Aminur Rahman Bablu of Ichhakur village in the upazila, obtained GPA-5 in both Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School (HSC) examinations before enrolling in marine engineering department at Buet, said Bhurulia union parishad member Sabur Kagoji.
He said Shamim is the eldest among two siblings. His sister, Sharmin Akhter, is a Class-XI student of Shyanmangar Govt Mohsin Degree College.
Their father is a driver of ‘Rozina Paribahan’ which operates buses on Dhaka-Kaliganj route, Sabur said.
He said Shamim used to maintain the expenses of his education providing tuition in Dhaka as the financial condition of his family is not good. He reportedly bought a motorcycle at Tk 2.5 lakh last week.
Although no one of his family is involved in politics, Shamim, a second-year student, got engaged in student politics at Buet, he said.
His grandfather, Atiar Rahman Sardar, claimed that Shamim was called by the BCL seniors to room-2011 of Sher-e-Bangla Hall while they were beating Abrar. “Shamim didn’t beat him. He was only seen carrying the body.”
He also said they want that the real culprits to be punished and the innocent not gets victimised.