Dhaka, Jan 3 (UNB) – Many think public universities are meant for only providing education. Not exactly! These days, students come up with their basic health needs and university medical centres are supposed to address those.
A few days back, a female student of Dhaka University shared in social media what she experienced at the institution’s medical centre. She recently visited the facility thrice with an eye problem but was denied treatment every time, she alleged.
Her Facebook post mostly drew negative and angry comments, lambasting the poor treatment at DU’s lone medical treatment facility, set up in 1922.
Thirty-six doctors, including six part-timers and six homeopaths, are there to treat more than 39,000 students, 2,012 teachers, over 4,000 staff and their families. The centre only has 30 beds and four ambulances.
It does not have a separate ward for female patients.
Over 400 patients visit the centre every day but many complain about poor services and the absence of physicians.
Students alleged that the centre advised them to get treated at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) – even for common diseases or minor injuries – most of the time.
Dr Sarawer Jahan Muktafi, the chief medical officer (acting) of the centre, turned down the allegations. “We’re always trying our best to serve the patients despite our limitations,” he said.
Staff at the medical centre claimed that 140,320 people were treated at the centre in 2016-17 fiscal.
A source at the university said the medical centre was supposed to provide free medicines for some common diseases but most of the time, it offers only painkillers and Napa.
The facility is also supposed to supply fresh bed sheets and mosquito nets to patients but it rarely does, the source said. More worrying is that its toilets are not cleaned regularly.
DU Proctor Prof AKM Golam Rabbani said they are expanding the medical centre and would hire more people. “We can open the extension after a few months. That will solve the problems,” he hoped.
But those assurances are hardly enough to pacify the disgruntled students.
“The physicians and staff are not friendly and doctors remain absent most of the time,” said Shimul Shahriar, an MA student. “They don’t take us seriously even if we suffer from serious illnesses.”
“They offer us painkillers or Napa and tell us to go to the DMCH or other hospitals for treatment. This medical centre is good for nothing,” he said.
Khulna, Jan 3 (UNB) – The tin-shed houses are easily flooded in the rainy season. At times, even the kitchens are inundated, rendering the residents unable to cook meals.
The situation sometimes forces them to spend sleepless nights on the beds with family members.
With years of negligence, the residents of the government’s Asrayan Project for sheltering the homeless in Terkhada’s Harikhali are now left with dilapidated and damp households.
Apart from waterlogging and crumbling homes, unemployment is also forcing residents to leave the project homestead.
The government initiated the project in 2002 to provide housing for the poor and homeless. There are 24 homes for 240 impoverished families.
Most of the houses have gone rusty and become unlivable in absence of proper supervision and repair works.
Many families, who had originally moved here, had left the place, leaving some of the homes empty. Constantly fighting nature and poverty are parts of lives of those who are still here.
Mud, excavated during the dredging of nearby Atharobaki River, has been piled up on the southern part of the project, partially blocking the entrances of some of the homes.
“The units (homes) are no longer livable,” one of the residents said.
There is no market nearby or employment opportunities. Many families left the project for safety issues, while many others fled the project area to avoid investigations into illegally securing houses there.
Md Liton Ali, Terkhada Upazila Nirbahi Officer, said uninhabitable houses and unemployment are among key reasons why people are leaving the project.
He said they were “trying to repair” the houses and dredge the nearby river and canal to solve the water scarcity.
“Initiatives have been taken to rehabilitate the destitute, homeless and the poor in the empty units,” the UNO said. “We’ll take actions against those who were allotted houses on political considerations.”
Dhaka, Jan 2 (UNB) – In the wake of Sunday’s drubbing in the national election, BNP policymakers are struggling to find out suitable measures to stay afloat in the post-election politics.
Party senior leaders said they are now in a fix to work out their next course of action as some think the party should now focus on the issue relating to election and force the government to hold a fresh election while others want the party to give priority to strengthening it and revitalising its rank and file.
A BNP standing committee member said most of their colleagues want the party to closely observe the situation and keep in touch with foreign friends and international bodies and rejuvenate party grassroots instead of going for any movement right now.
However, he said, some leaders think BNP should wage a movement to mount pressure on the government and the Election Commission to annul the election and thus give the party grassroots a new hope.
Under the circumstance, the BNP leader said, they have decided to work out their future action plans observing the reactions of the western countries and some important global bodies to the election.
He also said though BNP is against taking oath by seven Jatiya Oikyafront MPs elected in Sunday’s election, some alliance leaders want them to join the parliament. “We still couldn’t finalise our decision on it.”
A BNP vice-chairman thinks their party should now give main focus on getting party’s arrested leaders and activists released and ensuring bail for those who are on the run facing many cases to keep the spirit of the grassroots.
Though Tuesday was the founding anniversary of BNP’s vital wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD), there was no programme to celebrate it unlike previous years, manifesting the disappointment among its leaders and activists.
Even the JCD office, on the 3rd floor of BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, was found locked until noon and no one of its leaders and activists was seen in and around the office.
JCD used to celebrate its founding anniversary every year with different programmes, including placing wreaths at BNP founder Ziaur Rahman’s grave, cutting big cakes and holding discussions.
Contacted, JCD office secretary Abdus Sattar Patwari said there is a ban on holding any rally and meeting by the Election Commission until three days of the election. “That’s why we decided to celebrate our founding anniversary later.”
He said their president and general secretary issued a message greeting the JCD leaders and activists on the occasion.
BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman said it is usual that millions of BNP leaders and activists across the country have got shell-shocked by the ‘unimaginable and unexpected’ election results, whatever reasons may have behind it.
“We aren’t ready to get such an election results under any circumstance. I alerted the party high-ups six months ago that the 11th parliamentary elections would be farcical one if it was held under a party government, and that’s why I didn’t contest the polls,” he said.
Mahbub said the party should now do some serious soul-searching in the wake of the shocking defeat. “The party should now identify its mistakes and work out effective steps to revitalise its disappointed rank and file.”
He said BNP senior leaders should not remain silent now after such catastrophic election results as it will only demoralise the grassroots further. “BNP should now take some effective and positive programmes to give the party leaders and activists new hopes and keep them busy with some constructive activities so that they can overcome the shock and turn around.”
BNP’s Mohammadpur thana unit president Haji Mohammad Yusuf said party leaders and activists have lost their words and become utterly disappointed over the election results. “They’ve also become worried about their future as most of them are facing numerous cases.”
He said their followers are coming to them to know what they should now do and what will be the future action of the party. “But we’ve no suitable answer except telling them to have patience and observe the situation.”
Bogura district unit BNP joint general secretary Arafatur Rahman Apple said party grassroots got demoralised as the party even could not protect its strongholds like Bogura, Feni and Noakhali. “It’s very tough time for us. Our senior leaders must work out effective strategies and steps to boost the morale of disappointed party activists.”
Under the circumstances, he said, party senior leaders should contact the grassroots leaders and give them necessary directives to tackle the post-election situation.
Dhaka, jan 1 (UNB) – As the government has cancelled the 200 MW Teknaf Solar Park project following SunEdison’s failure to implement it as per the schedule, the executing agency has now moved the international arbitration challenging the government’s decision.
Sources at the Power Division said the US firm had been assigned with the task to implement the 200 MW grid-tied solar park project, country’s first-ever large-scale renewable energy project, which was scheduled to end by July 2018.
“But SunEdison couldn’t make any substantial progress in its implementation. That’s why the government issued it a ‘notice of intent’ to terminate the agreement in April last,” Mohammad Alauddin, a joint secretary at the Power Division, told UNB.
In reply, the US company sent a ‘notice of dispute’ as well as a legal notice in July to settle the issue as per 19 (b) of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) through the arbitration process, said officials of state-owned Power Development Board (PDB).
The PDB also responded to the notices and now the issue remains pending with the international arbitration, they said.
The PDB was supposed to purchase electricity at 17 US cents (equivalent to Tk 13.26) per unit or kilowatt-hour from the solar park.
The government had estimated that it would buy approximately 6482.4 million units of electricity from the company over a 20-year period at an estimated cost of Tk 8,595.66 crore.
The US firm had obtained the project on an unsolicited basis with much higher tariff compared to other similar projects, but it couldn't prove its efficiency, a top Power Division official told UNB, requesting anonymity.
SunEdison had been struggling with the project since it received the Cabinet Purchase Committee's approval on October 1, 2015.
Officials said the company became bankrupt in the USA in 2016 which plunged it into big financial crisis and even it failed to purchase required land in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar for the project. Some local firms came in the rescue of the US firm arranging 700 acres of land for the project, they noted.
As per the deal, the US firm was supposed to set up the park as an independent power producer (IPP) investing about $300 million.
Officials said private solar plants have been part of the government's plan to generate 24,000MW of electricity by 2021, of which a certain portion will come from renewable energy.
The said special emphasis was laid on power production from non-conventional sources like solar photovoltaic and wind.
The government has aimed to increase the total solar power production to 2,000MW by 2020.
But the total solar power production in Bangladesh has not crossed 300 MW yet.
Dhaka, Jan 1 (UNB) – The party had a plan to stage a comeback by forging an alliance with some progressive parties in 2018, but it apparently turned into another bad and shocking year for BNP as it suffered a worse defeat than anticipated in Sunday’s national election.
Political analysts think frustration and despair may grip the BNP rank and file due to its worst ever results in the national election and the party’s failure to break the cycle of bad luck for nearly 12 years since it lost power in 2006.
BNP senior leaders throughout the year 2018 tried to rejuvenate the party men by telling them that they are returning to power through the 11th parliamentary polls as majority people were with them because the ruling party lost its popularity.
The party, however, only got five seats while its alliance partner Gano Forum two in the election, plunging the party leaders and activists into deep frustration.
Political analysts think the year 2019 will be very tough and challenging for BNP as its survival in politics will be harder than ever. The party, they said, need to come up with the right strategy and actions to revitalise its grassroots and strengthen its organisational strength.
The party had started the year with a failure to hold a rally in the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan on January 5 to observe the day as ‘Democracy Killing Day’ and the same way it finished it by facing a serious debacle in the election.
The party senior leaders, including its chairperson Khaleda Zia, remained busy throughout January this year dealing with the cases filed against them.
BNP suffered a serious blow when Khaleda was sent to jail on February 8 in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case by a lower court.
After the jailing of their chairperson, BNP waged a peaceful movement and passed their days with different action programmes for over two months which apparently did not yield any positive results.
Later, the party joined different city polls, but suffered defeat in all the cities, except in Sylhet which is a notable success of the party in the election throughout the year.
After the poor show in the city polls, BNP took a step to unite some opposition parties and became successful as it formed Jatiya Oikyafront on October 13 with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gano Forum, ASM Abur Rob-led JSD and Mahmudur Rahman Manna-led Nagorik Oikya.
Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Bikolpa Dhara was supposed to join the alliance, but it finally remained out of it as BNP did not leave its partner Jamaat-e-Islami.
However, Kader Siddiqui-led Krishak Sramik Janata League joined Oikyafront later.
Before the election, BNP leaders sat in talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina twice, and finally joined the election under Awami League-led government.
However, BNP chief Khaleda Zia could not participate in the polls as she was convicted in two graft cases.
Evaluating BNP’s performance in 2018, BNP vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo said keeping party united amid the absence of their chairperson is their main success. “Forging unity with major opposition parties is our also a success.” We’ve also some failures and we couldn’t win the national polls, but we’re not finished, we’ll turn around soon.”
Dhaka University ex-Vice Chancellor Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP did very good and positive politics in 2018 with few mistakes.
“They faced a setback early 2018 when Khaleda Zia was sent to jail, but they tackled the situation effectively. Despite immense repressive acts and the absence of party chairperson and acting chairman, the party rank and file was united and they took part in the elections to various local bodies though they had both successes and failures in those polls,” he said.
Emajuddin also said BNP could not properly be prepared for the general election and revitalise party grassroots as it had to carry out peaceful movement for their chairperson’s release, spend huge time on forging unity with some parties and dealing with so many cases filed against its leaders and activists in 2018.
He said BNP did not lose to Awami League in the national election rather to the administration and law enforcers.
Emajuddin, a former teacher of Dhaka University’s political science department, said BNP now should focus on its own organisation and consolidate the unity of the party from the centre to the grassroots. “They must reorganise themselves and increase their organisational activities to invigorate its disappointed leaders and activists at all levels.”
Dr Sukomal Barua, a professor of Dhaka University Pali and Buddhist Studies department and adviser to the BNP chairperson, said BNP should now clearly analyse the election and pinpoint its mistakes and work out proper strategies and plans to warm up its demoralised supporters and strengthen the party’s orgsnisation.
Dr Sukomal suggested BNP to overhaul the party and its associate bodies evaluating its dedicated leaders and alongside keeping the unity of its partners of Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party.