Bagerhat, Feb 1 (UNB) - Physically-challenged people in Bagerhat have been passing days in hardship with their fundamental needs remaining unmet as the Bagerhat Rural Rehabilitation Centre remained closed for seven years.
Admission to the centre has been suspended due to the dilapidated condition of its building. Without jobs available, the physically-challenged people in the region have been facing difficulties to earn for and manage their families.
According to officials, the government set up the centre with three buildings and three tin-shed houses on 3.59 acres of land at Mulghar village in Fakirhat upazila in the 1981-82 fiscal year with a view to turning disabled people into skilled manpower.
But, the admission of disabled persons to the centre remained suspended since September 2012 due to the shabby conditions of the buildings and accommodation crisis.
The training activities at the centre started in 1987. All male disabled people, aged 14-24, could avail of the chance to get admitted here except the blind ones. There were three trades -- mechanical workshop, tailoring, and cattle and poultry farming – for which training was provided. Required qualification for training in the first two trades was class five but no specific educational requirement was needed for training on cattle and poultry farming.
Officials at the Department of Social Services of Bagerhat said 30 people in three trades – 10 in each trade -- were trained a year at government expenses. The government bore all their expenditures, including accommodation, dress, treatment facilities, sports and others. After their training, they were supposed to receive Tk 4,000 each as rehabilitation allowance.
Sources said 37 people trained by the centre still did not get their rehabilitation allowance.
Abdus Sattar, a trainer of Mechanical Trade Department of the centre, said the building condition of the centre is not good enough to live in there. Its training programme will resume if the residential building can be rebuilt or a tin-shed building can be constructed. Four staff, out of 11, are now working at this centre, while two are working elsewhere, Sattar said.
Sheikh Khalil Al Rashid, an assistant director of Department of Social Services of Bagerhat who is now in charge of the rural rehabilitation centre, said the authorities have decided to abandon the residential building as it has become risky for living.
The admission of disabled persons to the centre was closed in September 2012 due to accommodation crisis in it, Rashid said.
Before its closure, he said, a total of 356 physically-challenged people had received training.
Dhaka, Feb 01 (UNB) – Though Gono Forum President Dr Kamal Hossain asked them to refrain from joining parliament, the party’s two MPs-elect are still adamant to take oath.
Talking to UNB, two MPs-elect --Sultan Mohammad Mansur (Moulvibazar-2) and Mokabbir Khan (Sylhet-2) -- said they will take oath in due time showing respect to people’s mandate given in favour of them.
Sultan Mansur said he is not bound to obey Gono Forum’s any decision as he is not a member of the party while Mokabbir said Gono Forum will finally allow him to join parliament.
Sultan Mansur told UNB, “I don’t know what decision Gono Forum has taken. I’m going to take oath as per the desire of people who made me an MP.”
He said Dr Kamal Hossain in the past asked him to get ready for joining parliament. “As top leader of the Oikyafront, I respect him, but I can’t ignore the voters of my constituency as I do politics for them.”
Asked whether he will join Awami League, Sultan Mansur said he did not join any party leaving Awami League. “Awami league didn’t use me and that’s a different question. But, my identity is an ex-organising secretary of Awami League, not a Gono Forum leader.”
He also said he took part in the election as a candidate of Jatiya Oikyafront, not that of Gono Forum. “I’ll now join parliament and play a constructive role like an independent MP.”
Mokabbir Khan said their party did not yet take any decision not to join parliament.
As his attention was drawn to Dr Kamal Hossain’s today’s comment, he said, “I don’t know what he said, but I’m sure my party didn’t take any such decision. “I’m not going to take oath right now. I firmly believe my party will finally send me to parliament.”
Replying to a question, he said he personally thinks he should join parliament showing respect to people of his constituency who elected him an MP amid various adversities.
Earlier in the day, Dr Kamal Hossain said they have asked their two MPs-elect not to join parliament as per their party’s decision.
“We’ve clearly conveyed them (two MPs) our party’s decision of not joining parliament, and they won’t do it,” he said while talking to reporters after a meeting of Jatiya Oikyafront steering committee at his Motijheel chamber.
BNP along with Gono Forum and some other parties joined the December-30 election in alliance under the banner of Jatiya Oikyafront. BNP bagged six seats while Gono Forum two in the election.
The alliance turned down the election results bringing the allegation of ‘massive vote robbery’ and demanded reelection.
The first session of the new parliament began on Wednesday without the participation of the eight MPs-elect of Oikyafront.
Jamalpur, Jan 31 (UNB) – Some 50,000 residents of Laxmichar and Tulshirchar unions in Sadar upazila, separated from the mainland of the upazila by the Brahmaputra River, have long been suffering for lack of two much-needed concrete bridges over the river.
The residents of Laxmirchar, Charjagaria, Charpara, Rayerchar, Bhatipara, Charjathartopur, Kaziarchar, Tulshirchar, Rehai Gazaria, Tebirchar, Chatiantala, Garamara, Tikrakandi, Digriechar and Douhatala villages under the two unions depend on ‘kheya’ boat for crossing the river to go to Sadar upazila and capital Dhaka.
Several hundred college students of the two unions have to attend their classes enduring much difficulties every day.
During monsoon, the residents of the 15 villages have to cross the turbulent river risking their lives while in the dry season they have to cross a one-kilometer area of the river which gets muddy and patchy due to walking by hundreds of people.
Villagers alleged that the local administration has not taken any step yet to build any bridge although 48 years have elapsed since the country’s independence.
Every day many people have to cross the river to go to Nandina and Narandi bazars for education, business and shopping purposes.
Abdul Halim, a resident of Rehai Gazaria village, said the people in Tulshirchar and Laxmirchar unions depend on agriculture for their livelihood. The farmers have to depend on boats to take their crops to the local markets.
“The living standard of the people of the two unions is not improving and famers are not getting fair prices of their produces due to poor communication system,” he said.
Nazrul Islam, a resident of the same village, said, “They have heard pledges from the local administration several times but there is no change in the fate of the farmers.”
Rezaul Karim, a teacher of Narandi Jinnatan Afsor Women Degree College, said the residents of the two unions, have to move out for their destinations two hours ahead of the stipulated time because of the poor communication, he said.
Dilruba Champa, a college student and a resident of Tulshirchar village, said, “During the dry season I have to carry an extra dress with me for going to college as I my dress which I wear gets wet and dirty while crossing the river. As the river dried up during the dry season, I have to wade through waist- to knee-deep water to go to my college.”
Mohammad Nazrul Islam, executive engineer of Jamalpur LGED, said the cabinet has already approved a project for constructing a bridge at Nandina point over the Brahmaputra River and the work will begin soon once the tender is floated.
Dhaka, Jan 31 (UNB) – The sale of unconsumed rooftop solar electricity to government power distribution entities is rising fast in the capital city.
According to the latest statistics placed in a review meeting at Power Division, the number of such consumers who are selling their unconsumed solar power to the government distribution companies stood at 50 as of January 27, which was just 3 in December last year.
The rise is more significant in terms of volume, said a top official at Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) adding that all the purchases are being made under the Net Metering System (NMS) introduced by the government recently.
He mentioned the volume of purchase was 13.3 Kilowatt peak (KWp) until December last which increased to 450 KWp in January this year.
“We’re really getting enormous response from consumers. We’re frequently getting new offers from our consumers to buy their unconsumed rooftop solar power,” Ramiz Uddin, executive director of DPDC, told UNB.
The DPDC is responsible for power distribution in the Dhaka city’s central, southwest and eastern parts, and in Narayanganj city.
The government has introduced the NMS as part of its strategy to encourage the use of green energy across the country.
As part of the policy, the Power Division on July 28 last unveiled the “Net Metering Guideline 2018” to buy rooftop solar power from consumers.
Officials said the Power Division had issued an official order in August last to all the six power distribution entities of the country asking them to purchase rooftop solar power from at least 20 consumers within the next three months under the Net Metering System.
Following the instructions, all the power distribution entities, including Desco, DPDC, REB, Nesco, WZPDC and PDB moved to buy unconsumed solar power from their respective consumers.
Within a few months, the national gird received over 3 MW of electricity from the consumers.
Under the system, any consumer can set up rooftop solar system covering up to 70 percent capacity of the sanctioned load and sell the additional or unconsumed solar power after meeting his/her demand through a special metre under an exchange arrangement.
Consumers will use their own solar power alongside the grid. But on holidays when solar power is not used, they can sell power to the national grid. Even, on the working days, they can preserve their solar power to the grid and sell it to his power supplying company or take it back for its own consumption.
At the end of the month, bills will be adjusted on the basis of consumption and sales of solar power to the utilities and the consumer will get payment from the distribution company at a bulk rate if his sale overruns the consumption.
Power Cell officials believe the government will be able to buy about 10-12 MW power from rooftop consumers as many large clients like industries, apartment complex, shopping malls and hotels have already set up rooftop solar power plants for their own consumption as part of the government policy.
Even, individual consumers, who installed rooftop solar power system, can sell additional electricity to the government under the Net Metering System.
Officials said the government has initiated the move to introduce the system aiming to promote rooftop solar energy across the country as part of its plan to generate 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
There is a target to generate 3,168 MW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021 in compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well, said an official at the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda).
Dhaka, Jan 30 (UNB) – Jute-made products are turning heads at the Dhaka International Trade Fair (DITF). Pavilions showcasing them are attracting people, from the young to the old, with their colourful designs and diversity.
The array of products includes bags, purses, folders, tablemats, prayer mats, doormats, rugs, and room dividers, among others.
The huge, albeit unanticipated, number of visitors at the jute goods stalls is widening smiles on the faces of the vendors who say they expect buoyant sales this year.
Local brands have filled their stores with as many products with different designs and colours as possible to grab the windfall.
Md Ashequr Rahman Rumel, coordinator of Karupannya, a local company, says they are making between 300 and 400 products from jute and many of them can be bought at the fair.
Customers, mostly the young, appear to be more interested in jute-made products, says Abdur Rahim, a sales executive of at Cotton Tex stall.
‘The jute rush’
Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC), under the Ministry of Textiles and Jute, has installed a mega pavilion. Istiaque Ahmed, JPDC centre-in-charge, says most of the 25 stalls are showcasing jute goods from around the country.
Kazi Kamrul Karim, manager (marketing) of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), told UNB: “We’re trying to spread environment-friendly products at home and abroad. These products are attracting a large number of buyers.”
Two particular products – ‘Sonali Bag’ and ‘Jute-Tin’ – are standing out of the crowd in the fair. Karim says the government is planning to launch ‘Sonali Bag’, a biopolymer made from jute, in the local market this year as a suitable alternative to polythene bags.
The jute goods are exuding great response from the visitors.
Khadiza Rahman, who came from Keraniganj, is one of those impressed by the products and their quality. “I’m surprised to see such beautiful products made from jute,” she says. “If all of us shun plastic goods and use environment-friendly products, then we can save our environment. We should buy more jute made goods.”
‘Revival of the golden fiber’
The data provided by Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) shows that Bangladesh exported jute and jute products worth $421 million in the first half (July-Dec) of the 2018-19 financial year.
Jute, the country’s third largest forex earner, is estimated to involve around 10 million people. The country produces around 1.45 million tonnes of raw jute annually.
New products from jute and a global campaign against plastic have rekindled the hope of a comeback for the ‘golden fiber’. People are optimistic that jute will solve the plastic problem -- at least to some extent.
The period between 1972 and 1975 was the golden era of jute, says Dr Md Monjurul Alam, director general of Bangladesh Jute Research Institute.
“Jute was pushed to the sideline by polythene and plastic goods,” he says. “The government did not take initiatives to help the sector and instead shut down mills.”
It was not until after 1996 that the government took steps to diversify jute products and started opening new mills. Bangladesh enacted the Mandatory Jute Packaging Act 2010, enforced in January 2014, making the use of jute packaging compulsory for 19 types of products.
The government initiatives have encouraged entrepreneurs to come up with diversified jute products. Currently, Bangladesh is also exporting ‘Patpata Paio’ made from jute’s leaf (an alternative to tea) to Germany. It will be available in the local market very soon, BJMC’s Karim says.
“Campaign against plastic is continuing across the world. Bangladesh must take advantage of these eco-friendly consumer trends in the global market,” Monjurul says.
BJMC Scientific Advisor Dr Mubarak Ahmad Khan, who led the invention of ‘Sonali Bag’ and ‘Jute-Tin’, concurred. “It’s an opportunity for Bangladesh to grab global markets,” he says.
Mubarak lamented the lack of funding. “I can increase the production volume if I’ve adequate funding. We can earn a huge sum of foreign currency,” he says.
His ‘Sonali Bag’ is completely biodegradable and does not contain any plastic particles. On top of that, it is recyclable. The ‘Jute-Tin’, on the other hand, is extremely strong and can withstand hailstorms. “It’ll last for over 100 years,” he claims.
“The prices of the products will come down if the government subsidises them. This will encourage people to buy them instead of plastic goods,” the scientist says.
“A golden era of jute is knocking on the door of Bangladesh,” BJMC’s Kamrul says.
It just needs a little push, he adds.