Sylhet, Oct 13 (UNB) –Srimukh, a village under Khajanchi union in Bishwanath upazila, is probably the smallest village in the country where only a 5-member family has been living for long amid the absence of various basic facilities, including a road.
The village, enlisted in the government gazette, is located at Ward No 5 of the union and in the middle of Telikona and Paschim Noagaon villages with a single family living here since the mid-60s.
The current members of the isolated family include three women -- Rahima Begum, 35, Dilara Begum, Angura Begum, 43, and Sumaia, minor girl Akhter Tahina, 8, and Aftab Ali.
Ali, the only male member of the family, has been living in Saudi Arabia for 30 years to support the family.
While visiting the village recently, the UNB correspondent found that there is no road to enter the village and the lone family of the village has been struggling to survive for lack of various basic facilities.
The only tube-well at the village went out of order long ago and they have to drink water fetching it from neighbouring village. They have to drink contaminated pond water when they are unable to move out.
Rahima Begum, wife of Aftab Ali, said there is no path to get out of their house. As there is no road, they have to go out crossing the lands of others.
Photo shows three family members of the smallest village. Photo: UNB
“My daughter can’t go to school during the rainy season. My husband now can’t earn much because he has grown old. We don’t get any government assistance either. So, we’ve been living a terrible life here,” she bemoaned.
Rahima said they desperately need a road at the village and the government can construct it.
Though the village is listed in the government gazette, no development work is done at the village.
Once a Hindu family used to live there. In 1964, the Hindu family sold the house to the ancestor of Aftab Ali.
Talukder Gias Uddin, chairman of Khazanchi union, said as the village has no land of its own, it is not possible to build a road for them. However, an effort is on for constructing a road for the village in consultation with the residents of the adjoining villages, he said.
Contacted, Upazila Nirbahi Officer Amitabh Parag Talukdar said he has heard recently about the village and he will look into the matter.
He also assured the villagers of repairing their tube-well, now out of service.
Dhaka, Oct 12 (UNB) - Strict enforcement of traffic rules and behavioural change of pedestrians and transport workers as well as proper planning and political commitment are essential to have a disciplined traffic system in this chaotic city of Dhaka, said experts.
They said though it looks a herculean task to restore discipline in the city streets, it is possible to do so through a vigorous media campaign and enforcing traffic rules alongside gearing up the decentralisation process.
Many countries in the world have turned their unlivable cities livable through innovative ideas and forcing people to abide by rules, the experts said.
Prof Moazzem Hossain of Civil Engineering department at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) said eight components -- policy, planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, enforcement and finally monitoring –- will have to be ensured to bring discipline in the traffic system.
Prof Moazzem, also Director of Buet Accident Research Institute (ARI), said it needs to monitor whether the seven other components are functioning properly.
Without adequate manpower, management, leadership, engineering, funding and planning, it is not possible to bring discipline in the streets changing the whole system, he said, adding: “It needs to implement all the eight components and for this, it requires organisational setup, manpower, political commitment and funding support.”
Besides, a footway network system will have to be developed alongside automating the traffic signal network, the road safety expert said.
Prof Moazzem underscored the need for bringing a radical change in the bus operation module. “Buses are plying the city streets under around 250 companies which is absurd. Globally, buses run under a single state-owned agency,” he said, adding that if all the buses run under a single company in the capital, the situation may improve.
Ashish Kumar Dey, general secretary of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR), said many, including bikers, auto-rickshaw and tempo drivers, young political party activists and a major portion of pedestrians, do not follow traffic rules properly. “It’s a major obstacle to controlling the overall traffic management and reducing road crashes,” he said.
A continued awareness campaign and strict enforcement of traffic rules can bring discipline in the streets, Ashis said.
Alongside strict enforcement of law and tacking action against errant transport workers and pedestrians, a worker-friendly road transport policy will have to be ensured to bring down the number of road accidents and end anarchy in the sector, he added.
The NCPSRR leader said transport workers' lifestyle should be enhanced. “If their wages and other facilities are not increased, a sense of dissatisfaction and hopelessness prevails among them and many drivers become desperate to earn more, leading to repeated road accidents,” he said.
He also alleged that some influential labour leaders and political party leaders protect many drivers and helpers when they are sued by law enforcers, terming it another reason behind drivers being desperate on roads.
Shahidul Islam, general secretary of Dhaka Taxi-Taxi Car-Auto-rickshaw Drivers’ Union, said drivers are yet to receive any training and motivation from any quarter. “It would have surely helped reduce road crashes, had drivers been trained and motivated.”
A CNG-run auto-rickshaw driver has to give its owner Tk 1,600-1,700 as a daily deposit against the government-fixed Tk 600 while bus drivers run their vehicles on a target basis, he said, adding this makes the drivers reluctant to obey the traffic rules as they have to increase the number of trips to earn more. “If the government ensures that owners are not charging more, the tendency of violating traffic rules among drivers will come down sharply,” he said.
Shahidul also said although there is a Prime Minister’s directive to not run buses on contractual basis, it is yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) observed a month-long traffic safety awareness campaign in September following widespread student protests triggered by the death of two college students on a city street in August.
During the campaign that ended on September 30, around 1.72 lakh cases were filed and around Tk 14 crore were realised as fine for traffic rules violation.
On the last day of the campaign, DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said despite the sincerity of traffic police to bring discipline in the streets, their attempts are not yielding results due to people's tendency to violate traffic rules. “Though it’s not possible to change habits and behaviour in just one month, we’re hopeful that people will gradually abide by traffic rules,” he said.
“It cannot be expected that hundreds of years of practice or irregularity will change overnight. But we hope everyone will be respectful to the law,” he said, urging the city dwellers to cooperate with the police to enforce traffic rules.
Sherpur, Oct 12 (UNB) – The government’s recent move to excavate the Brahmapura River aiming to improve its navigability and reclaim its lost parts from the clutches of encroaches has raised hope among the residents of the district and others living in its vicinity.
On October 2, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) approved 15 projects involving Tk 13,218.31 crore, including Tk-4,371 crore ‘Navigability development and reclamation of Old Brahmaputra, Dharla, Tulai and Punorbhoba Rivers’ project.
Brahmapurta, once a river with strong current, turned into a narrow canal, thanks to illegal encroachment by local influential people.
Only a few years back it was a busy waterway as the vicinity of the river was abuzz with traders and fishermen amid widespread use of boats and trawlers.
But the scenario has changed soon as the river here has turned into a canal, leaving people living on the river banks unemployed. Several thousand hectares of agricultural lands have turned barren as the farmers failed to pump water into their croplands due to water crisis.
Kutub Uddin, a resident of Dakpara village in Charpokkhimari union in Sadar upazila, said people used to carry their goods to Mymensingh, Dhaka and Narayanganj through the river routes from Roumari but the river has dried up and transportation of goods has stopped.
“When the river water used to swell, croplands and dwelling houses would have inundated, but now the river has turned into a cannel,” he said.
Under the new project, around 227 kilometres of the Old Brahmaputra River would be dredged up to 100 metres of width and 3 metres of depth to upgrade it to a class-II navigational route to ensure the transportation of passengers and goods at ease and lower costs.
Besides, Shipping Secretary Abdus Samad Faruk, who visited Sherpur recently, said the soil lifted from the river will be used in different development works, including road, school and colleges renovation activities, he said.
Besides, a waterbody will be built on the river bank to help farmers use the water in their croplands during the dry season.
Md Abul Kalam Azad, convener of Publicity Sherpur District committee, said,” We welcome the government move to improve the navigability of the Brahmmaputra River as it is a long-cherished demand of the people of Sherpur. We want implementation of the development project as soon as possible.”
Anar Koli Mahbub, deputy commissioner of Sherpur, said, “Once this river dredging project is implemented, the communications system of the region will have different look, expanding tourism and business.”
Dhaka, Oct 12 (UNB)- Getting enrolled at a renowned public university like Dhaka University (DU) is the most important and difficult challenge for any student of his or her entire life.
This year, a total of 8,58,801 examinees, out of 12,88,757, passed the Higher Secondary Examination (HSC) in all the 10 education boards of the country.
Among the successful students, 25,562 achieved the highest grade, GPA 5, under eight general education boards in addition to 1,244 under the Madrassah Education Board and 2,456 under the Technical and Vocational Education Board.
But the total number of seats at DU for the first year honours admission seekers is only 7,128 under five faculties.
According to the DU central admissions office this year, some 38 admission seekers vied for each seat, while a total of 272,512 admission-seekers have applied against 7,128 seats for the admissions into the university.
A total of 82,970 admission-seekers vied for 1,750 seats under ‘Ka (A)’ unit while 36,250 for 2,378 seats under ‘Kha (B)’ unit, 27,534 for 1,250 seats under ‘Ga (C)’ unit, 100,614 for 1,615 seats under ‘Gha (D)’ unit and 25,144 for 135 seats under ‘Cha (F)’ unit.
It was shown that many admission seekers did not obtain pass marks in DU admission test, though they obtained GPA 5 in both Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exams.
Miazi Saleh bin Hasan, an admission-seeker who passed HSC from Dhaka Board sat for the DU admission under ‘Kha Unit’ and scored pass marks but still he could not be sure about his admission to this University. His serial number is 4390 where the total number of seats available in this unit is just 2,378. Now he is preparing for other universities.
Expressing his disappointment at not getting a chance at DU, Miazi told UNB, “I always dreamt of studying at DU because getting admitted to this university can change one’s future life and career.”
Iqbal Biswas, a master’s degree student of Population Science department told UNB, “The best achievement of my entire life is getting a chance at DU. The four-year experience at this university has been amazing. The joy of being a student can only truly be realised on a beautiful and large campus like of DU, where creativity floats in the air and spirit of freedom is evident everywhere.”
Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Dr. Md Akhtaruzzaman admitted the seat crisis at the DU and said, “It’s true that our university can’t provide enough seats for the admission seekers. But I think it’s not a major problem as they can have admission to other public and private universities.”
“As the DU admission process is totally fair, there is no opportunity to get enrolled here adopting unfair means. We’ve no plan to increase the number of seats or open any new department in near future,” he added.
Thakurgaon, Oct 11 (UNB) – The upgradation of Thakurgaon Sugar Mills still reamins a distant dream though five years have elapsed since the approval of the development project.
One of the reasons behind it is complexities in appointing a contracting farm for the construction works, according to sources at the sugar mills, five kilometers off the district town.
Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation (BSFIC) under the Ministry of Industries was supposed to implement the project at a cost of Tk 101.53 crore by June 2016, Engineer SM Abdur Rashid, director of the project, told UNB.
The project was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in 2013-2014 fiscal year, aiming to boost the production capacity of the mill.
Later, the deadline of the project was extended by two years till June 2018.
At the beginning of the current fiscal year, the project was extended by another year till June 2019 for the third time, raising the project cost to Tk 411.10 crore from Tk 101.54 crore.
BSFIC sources said two tenders were floated in September and November 2017 for appointing a contracting firm, but there has been no progress either.
BSFIC, the project implementation organisation, preferred to upgrade the factory’s capacity using machinery from any European country instead of using India or China-made products, but there has been no response yet since the tender was floated.
Under the project, an initiative was taken to produce refined sugar alongside normal onec through diversification and turn the mill into a profitable company by producing beet sugar, rectified spirit, biogas, and bio-compost.
It also includes power generation from renewable energy through co-generation to supply to the national grid after meeting the demand of the mill.
Ramesh Chandra Sen, the MP of Thakurgaon-1 constituency, said, “Once the project is implemented, the income of the mill will go up substantially reducing the sugar production expenditure by producing refined sugar.”
Set up in 1958, Thakurgaon Sugar Mill is now in a bad shape for widespread 'mismanagement'.