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.
Rangamati, Oct 22 (UNB) – The farming of Malta is picking up pace in the district, especially the Bari Malta-1 type.
Hemkumar Chakma, one such farmer, started farming Malta fruits back in 2014 on a one-acre stretch of land. He currently grows them in a big orchard.
Though many were initially skeptical to think of growing such a juicy fruit in the hilly regions, its bumper production has surprised everyone.
As a result, others have followed his method and have experienced the similar success.
Hemkumar told UNB that he was provided with seeds and other logistics by the local Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE),
With the DAE’s help, he planted 200 seeds initially, aiming to overcome odds and grow such a fruit in a region considered barren for most fruit cultivation. The success came in two and a half years’ time.
Hemkumar now plans to grow Jujube fruits (Baukul breed) in his orchard.
Shantimoy Chakma, deputy agricultural officer of Shukor Chari block, said Hemkumar had voluntarily decided to cultivate Malta and hence they helped him in every possible way.
Paban Kumar Chakma, a deputy director at the district agriculture department, said the demand for Malta is met though import but it can be grown locally as Hemkumar has shown how to do. “The weather and soil conditions are also good here.”
The way things are moving, Paban said, it may not be far away that Malta will be the newest fruit which can be considered for export, bringing in a silent revolution.
Naogaon, Oct 20 (UNB) – With the rice imported from neighbouring India selling at lower prices, the demand for the local varieties is on the decline, pushing 600 rice mills into closure in the district, said rice mills owners.
The millers had taken loan of around Tk 500 crore from different banks and financial institutions for their businesses, but could not repay the loans due to unwanted fall demand of local variety rice, they said.
Talking to UNB, millers said there are a total of 1,800 rice mills in the district. Of them, some 600 have already been closed and 300 facing shotdown.
The leaders of district Rice Mills Owners Association gave a memorandum to the Commerce Minister through the deputy commissioner of the district after organising a press conference in Alupotti area in the district town recently.
At the press conference, the millers disclosed the information and narrated their sufferings blaming the ‘unnecessary import’ of rice from the neighbouring country.
The millers urged the authorities concerned to immediately stop rice import to save the industry.
They also requested the banks and financial institutions to bring down the interest rate of land to nine percent in accordance with the government decision.
Rafiqul Islam, president of district Rice Mills Owners’ Association, said the country experienced food shortage due to natural disaster last year.
“Then the government slashed the rice import duty to only two percent from 10 percent, opening up doors for the importers to bring huge quantity of rice,” he said.
The government fixed nine percent bank interest for loans for industries, but the local banks are still charging 12 to 14 percent interest from the rice mill owners, the millers alleged..
Although the farmers across the country have achieved a bumper yield of rice this year and have been able to stock enough rice, the government is still continuing rice import from India, said Rafiqul Islam.
As a result, around 80 percent of rice mills have already been closed here, causing huge losses to rice mills owners and employees, he said.
“Rice growers are also incurring losses due to decline in demand of locally produced rice,” the leader added.
When contacted, district food officer Md Abdus Salam said the information over closure of 80 percent mills is not accurate.
“Except the automatic rice mills, a section of mill owners do seasonal businesses and keep their mills closed other time,” he added.
Khulna, October 20 (UNB) – The government has taken a project to reestablish telecommunication structures in the remote areas of the Sundarbans, aiming to strengthen monitoring in the world’s largest mangrove forest and protect the forest resources.
Forest Department sources said the project will be implemented involving Tk 3.48 crore under Climate Change Trust Fund and 56 telecommunication structures will be set up across the Sundarbans.
Among those points, 28 will be established in the Sundarbans East Division, 27 in the West Division and one in the district forest conservator’s office.
Once implemented, the project will help the officers and staff of the Forest Department to maintain constant communication and exchange information.
Telecommunications was destroyed in the forest due to various natural disasters, especially after Cyclone Sidr. The remote areas of the Sundarbans remained out of telecommunication network since then.
Under the project, 50 Very High Frequency (VHF) towers and six other supporting towers will be established. Besides, 50 VHF sets, six supporting sets, 50 solar batteries and 100 walkie-talkie sets will be purchased.
Md Yusuf Hawlader, a forest guard Sundarbans East Division, said that they have to perform their duties in the deep forest where network is mostly unavailable and emergency contact cannot be made.
Forest officers hope that this initiative will also strengthen patrolling activities and help in forest conservation as well.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of East Sundarban, Mahmudul Hasan said administrative duties have become difficult to carry out, hence the decision has been taken to reestablish telecommunications in the Sundarbans.
Dhaka, Oct 17 (UNB) – The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has taken an initiative to procure and install 10,000 electronic fiscal devices (EFD) in 13 types of business entities from next year in a move to check value added tax (VAT) evasion.
The new EFD will replace the electronic cash register (ECR) and the point of sale (POS).
The government this year made EFD use mandatory in 13 types of business entities in city corporation areas and in district towns to check Value Added Tax (VAT) evasion.
The 13 types of businesses included hotels, restaurants, fast food shop, confectionaries, jewelers, beauty salons, furniture shop, RMG shop or boutique shop, electronics shop, community center, all business entities in posh shopping mall, departmental stores, general shop or super shop, wholesalers and large retail stores.
Recently the government has issued an order making the installation of EFD in the retail shops across the country mandatory.
According to the NBR officials the price for one EFD would cost Tk 25,000-30,000.
“Although the government is spending the money for the 10,000 business entities the NBR hopes that it will bring transparency in the accounts of these entities and that would bring a positive result,” a senior official of the NBR said.
He said that EFDs will help curb evasion as these would be connected with the server that will generate real time data of sales at shops.
The EFDs will be connected online with a server at the NBR. Any entry from a particular business entity will be registered at the server of the NBR.
"This will bring transparency and the scope to evade the tax will be restricted. As a result the revenue collection will be improved," the senior NBR official said.
If any business entity does not use this EFD or any deviation of using this is proved that entity will have to pay Tk 20,000-50,000 as fine. If this kind of offence committed repeatedly then the NBR will lock the offender’s Business Identification Number (BIN).
The NBR earlier planned to buy 10,000 ECRs for large shops, wholesalers, restaurants and other businesses as part of its target to implement the VAT law 2012 from fiscal 2017-18.
The plan was scrapped after the government deferred the implementation of the law by two years. Last year, it identified 8,007 entities eligible for fitting the electronic sales devices.
These business houses will get the EFD on priority basis and other business houses have to procure the EFD later.
At present, several thousand shops use electronic cash registers and point-of-sale machines. However, all of the business entities are not currently using the device to issue sales invoices to customers and hide actual transaction figures from taxmen.
The NBR had made the e-cash mandatory in 2008 for 11 types of businesses: hotels, restaurants, confectionaries, jewelers, beauty salons, wholesalers and large retail stores.
Allegations are widespread that many businesses do not use the e-cash register even after installation to evade VAT allegedly in connivance with field officials of the revenue authority.
The move to install EFD comes following advice from Finance Minister AMA Muhith to introduce an EFD management system to combat non-payment of VAT at the retail and wholesale levels.
For fiscal year 2018-19, the government has set the total revenue target - tax and non-tax revenue – at Tk 3,39,280 crore. Of the above total amount, the NBR has been tasked to source Tk 2, 96,201 crore.