Naogaon, Oct 26 (UNB) – More than 600 rice mills in the district have been closed due to staggering losses reportedly caused by rice import, leaving thousands of labourers out of job.
Millers claimed that they have been compelled to roll back their business as the price of local rice dropped due to ‘unnecessary’ import from India.
According to the millers, they had taken loan, amounting to Tk 500 crore, from different banks and financial institutions for the development of their business, but they could not repay it due to sharp fall in the rice prices.
There are some 1,800 rice mills across the district. Of them, some 600 have been closed while 300 will be closed in the coming days if necessary steps are not taken immediately, the millers said.
On October 7, the leaders of district Rice Mills Owners’ Association sent a memorandum to the Commerce Minister through the deputy commissioner of the district after organising a press conference at Alupotti in the town.
At the press conference, the millers described their sufferings caused by the ‘unnecessary’ import of rice from the neighbouring country.
They urged the authorities concerned to immediately stop the rice import to protect the interest of the local millers.
They also urged the banks and financial institutions to bring the interest rate to nine percent as suggested by the government.
Rafiqul Islam, president of district Rice Mills Owner Association, said the country experienced food shortage due to a natural disaster in the past years.
“Then the government cut down the import duty from 28 percent to two percent and opened the door for the importers to import huge rice to meet the local demand,” he said.
The millers also said the government fixed bank interest rate at 9 percent for industries, but the local banks are still charging 12 to 14 percent interest from the rice millers.
Although the farmers across the country have harvested bumper yield of rice this year, the government continues the rice import from India, said Rafiqul Islam.
As a result, he said, around 80 percent of rice mills have been closed.
“This also makes the rice growers and farmers to face huge losses because customers are not interested to buy local rice,” the leader added.
Contacted, district food officer Md Abdus Salam said this is not true that 80 percent mills in the district has been closed. “Except the automatic rice mills, a section of mill owners, in fact, do seasonal businesses and keep their mills closed in other time,” he added.
Dhaka, Oct 25 (UNB) – The move to set up a solar power plant at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) here has gathered pace as a 7-member high-profile team visited some of the international airports in India and found it viable for Bangladesh as well.
According to official sources, the committee, headed by an additional secretary of the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, visited India in in mid-September to physically observe the operation of solar power plants at airports there and other related technical and engineering issues.
The committee prepared a report on the basis of the experience gathered during the tour.
The team members were included from Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh, Power Development Board (PDB) and Power Division of the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources.
India has already turned a number of airports into solar-powered ones by setting up photovoltaic solar plants on their premises to meet their electricity demand from their own sources.
Cochin International Airport in Kerala, Bengalore Kempgowda International Airport, Indiara Ghandi International Airport in New Delhi and Netaji Subas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata are among the airports turned into solar-powered ones.
Of the Indian airports, the Bangladesh team visited the last two and exchanged their views with the authorities concerned there to get the right idea of implementing solar power projects at airports.
“We found the solar projects there very effective and such projects could be implemented at HSIA and other airports of Bangladesh,” Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary of the Power Division, who was a member of the team, told UNB.
As per their experience gathered from the visit, he said, they believe HSIA could generate about 15-17 MW of electricity from the solar project, which would meet one-third of its own electricity requirement.
Alauddin said the HSIA has 1981 acres of land of which more than 40 acres may be used for the development of a solar PV power plant.
Solar energy experts believe free space and rooftop of HSIA can offer a cheaper option for solar power generation with a nominal cost.
With the technological advancement, they said, all the concerns over solar PV installation at the airports have been addressed.
They said modern solar PV panels are made with dark-colored materials and covered with anti-reflective coatings which minimize the glare effects.
“Solar PV modules also don’t emit electromagnetic waves over distances that could interfere with radar signal transmissions. Exploiting advanced technology solar PV systems are increasingly being installed at airports across the world,” said a solar technology expert.
Chapainawabganj, Oct 25 (UNB) – The farmers of the district are passing a very busy time in cultivating various winter vegetables as their cultivation proved to be quite rewarding.
Officials at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) said they have set a target to bring some 9,530 hectars of land under winter vegetable cultivation this time with a production target of 1,57,245 metric tonnes.
During a recent visit to rural areas, the UNB correspondent found that the vegetable growers in Sadar, Shibganj, Gomostapur and Nachole upazilas are busy cultivating brinjal, radish, spinach, red-spinach, cabbage, cauliflower in their lands.
The vegetable growers of the upazilas said cultivating winter vegetable is more profitable than cultivating paddy at this time of the year.
They urged the government to lower the prices of fertilizers and pesticides to reduce the production cost.
Mobarak Hossain, a vegetable grower of Takahara in Nachole upazila, said he cultivated cabbage, tomato and cauliflower as the market value of winter vegetables is higher than other vegetables.
Mobarak’s wife Jahanara said labourer cost is Tk 300 per head, and she works in the vegetable field of her husband to save the money.
Mobarak Ali, another farmer of Shahapur area in the upazila, said, “We’ve cultivated radish, spinach, red-spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal and tomatoes in our fields but the prices of pesticides and fertilizers are high while the wage of labourers has also gone up. If the prices of fertilizers and pesticides had been lower than we would have been benefited more.”
Manjurul Huda, DAE deputy director in Chapainawabganj, said the farmers of the district are showing more interest in cultivating winter vegetables in their lands as it has turned out to be more profitable than cultivating other crops.
The DAE is providing the farmers with necessary training and suggestions and discouraging them to use excessive pesticides. He hopes that the vegetable cultivation will exceed the target set by the DAE.
Dhaka, Oct 23 (UNB) – The government has planned to build the country’s biggest-ever urea fertilizer factory in Narsingdi with the annual production capacity of 9.24 lakh metric tonnes, said a senior official.
“It’ll be a modern, sophisticated, energy-efficient and environment-friendly green fertilizer factory,” the Industries Ministry official told UNB.
The government envisages exporting urea after meeting domestic demand after implementation of the mega project.
The project titled ‘Ghorasal Polash Urea Fertilizer Project (GPUFP) will be implemented at the place of existing two very old fertilizer factories -- Urea Fertilizer Factory Ltd (UFFL) and Polash Urea Fertilizer Factory Ltd. (PUFFL).
Once implemented, the factory will produce 2,800 metric tonnes of Granular Urea a day, which is about three times higher than that of the existing two fertilizer factories, another official at the Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) told UNB.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI), Japan and China National Chemical Engineering No. 7 Construction Co. Ltd. (CC-7), China consortium is the contractor of this project.
This project will be implemented through ‘Bidder Financing’ process, spending Tk 10,460.91 crore.
Of the amount, the government will provide Tk 1,844.19 crore while the rest of the amount, Tk 8,616.72 crore, will come as commercial loan.
“Hope, the project will be implemented maintaining the highest standard and using world-class environment-friendly green technology,” said the BCIC official.
Since Japan is the technology leader of the world, he said, this project will add a new feather to the crown of Japanese innovation and technological reputation.
Other officials said an agreement on ‘Ghorasal Polash Urea Fertilizer Project (GPUFP)’ among BCIC and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI), Japan and China National Chemical Engineering Construction Co. Ltd. (CC7) will be signed on Wednesday.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had directed the Industries Ministry to build a modern urea fertilizer factory replacing the old two ones.
Later, this month, the Executive of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved a proposal for setting up Ghorashal Palash Urea Fertiliser Factory at a cost Tk 10,460 crore which will be completed by 2022.
Currently, Shahjalal Fertiliser Factory in Fenchuganj of Sylhet is the country’s biggest fertilizer factory having the production capacity of 5.81 metric tonnes.
Khulna, Oct 23 (UNB) – Three rivers -- the Mayur, the Bhairab and the Rupsa— running beside the city are now under rampant human assaults due to encroachment and unchecked pollution.
The dumping of untreated industrial wastes and chemicals into the rivers from the metropolitan city and negligence of the authorities concerned have made way for illegal grabbers to stake substantial claims in those rivers.
Multiple industries have been set up on the banks of the Rupsa and Mayur, which affect the dissolved oxygen(DO) level in the waters, turning the water toxic and jeopardising the aquaculture in the process.
Amid such troubled period, local experts feel the absence of a river research institute, which is only located in Dhaka and Faridpur.
According to sources at the Department of Environment, the oxygen level in the three rivers, along with the Kalibacha River, has reduced drastically. The oxygen level in the Mayur is alarmingly low.
Senior chemist at the department Md Kamruzzaman Sarkar said a river must contain above 4.5 mg of dissolved oxygen to sustain. In August, the DO level in the Rupsha river was 5.3 mg, the Bhairab 5.4 mg and the Mayur 1.2mg.
Though it is illegal to dump industrial waste and chemicals into the rivers without treatment, it is not being followed by the industries, an investigation reveals.
As a result, the expert said, the aquaculture is facing threat, while the nurseries built to cultivate spawn are also being polluted.
The presence of nearby jute mills, power plants, matchstick factories, brick kilns and Khulna City Corporation (KCC)’s dumping unit are greatly affecting the rivers.
It is alleged that the water in 22 canals and countless drains located in the Khulna City Corporation are rolled into the rivers without any proper filtering. The presence of human waste, dumped materials and other products are directly thrown into the rivers.
Dr M Rakib Uddin, a professor at Khulna University’s Environment science discipline, said this waste dumping is the main cause of pollution of the rivers, which are mainly caused by the nearby industries.
He also lamented the lack of a river research institute, which could have played a role in preventing such gross deterioration.
When asked, Habibul Haq Khan, director of the district’s environment directorate office, acknowledged the problems but said that lack of public awareness is also to be blamed.
He added that they carry out drives against the factories to prevent pollution, which will increase in the future.