Khulna, June 15 (UNB) – Drugs continue to move into the country from across the border despite recurring drives by law enforcement agencies as some 41,000 drug-related cases are pending with lower courts in 10 districts of the southwestern region.
Smuggling of phensidyl, hemp and liquor has been going on relentlessly through different border points of the 10 districts, leading to the piling up of drug-related cases, according to the Divisional Taskforce Committee.
Sources at the committee said some 226 cases are disposed of on average each month.
They said 4,542 cases are pending with courts in Khulna district, 1,525 in Bagerhat, 3,067 in Satkhira, 11,288 in Jashore, 3,261 in Jhenaidah, 2,225 in Magura, 1,661 in Narail, 3,237 in Kushtia, 3,301 in Chuadanga and 1,039 in Meherpur district. All the cases were filed by police and Narcotics Control Department.
Besides, 5,576 cases filed by Khulna Metropolitan Police are also pending with different courts.
At a recent meeting of the taskforce committee, Divisional Commissioner Lokman Hossain Mia urged all the officials concerned to remain alert to prevent the entry of drugs into the country through border and river routes.
The meeting was informed that the authorities concerned of Magura and Narail districts have already taken 16 measures to make the districts free from drugs.
The steps include arranging awareness meetings, raising the number of mobile courts to conduct anti-narcotics drives and delivering speech against drug abuse during Khutba (sermons during Friday prayers) by Imams at local mosques.
Meanwhile, the district anti-narcotics department started a special drive in Khulna district to arrest 62 ‘drug kingpins’.
Besides, anti-narcotics drives are being conducted in commuter trains coming from Benapole, the committee members said.
Moulvibazar, June 14 (UNB) - Today marks the 22nd anniversary of possibly the first real man-made disaster affecting the environment to occur in Bangladesh, as a consequence of contracts signed between the government and the powerful set international oil companies, or IOCs.
On June 14, 1997 a destructive gas well blowout occurred close to midnight at the Magurchhara gas field in Kamalganj, Moulvibazar. US oil major Occidental was drilling the well at the time. Later, the company sold its interests in Bangladesh to Unocal, which in time merged with Chevron.
Although an investigation report into the incident blamed the irresponsibility, negligence, and mistakes of those operating the well for the tragedy, neither Occidental nor the IOCs its interest proceeded to merge into has ever provided any compensation for the explosion.
From then, various organizations have been observing June 14 every year through different programs.
The area affected by the explosion included reserved forest, part of the Akhaura-Sylhet railway, Fulbari tea orchard, part of the Kamalganj- Srimangal highway, Magurchara Khasia punji and the main power line of PDB.
Besides, 28 tea gardens of the area were affected in the heavy shake. Trees, environment, and above all the biodiversity over an area of nearly 700 hectares of nearby forest area were severely damaged. It I 200 billion cubic feet of gas was wasted whose market values stood at 50 crore US Dollar.
The total loss caused by the explosion has been estimated from between Tk 9,000 crore to TK 14,000 crore. But no pragmatic step has been taken yet to collect the compensation from the perpetrators.
A probe body, led by a senior official of Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources was formed which submitted their 500-page report on July 30, the same year.
Later, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources formed a three-member sub-committee to find out the extent of damages, collect the compensation and distribute it.
The probe body told the sub-committee that the accident happened due to the failure of Occidental to perform their duties as planned. The investigators pointed out 15 to 16 errors performed by the company.
Although the officials of Occidental objected about two or three errors, they acknowledged the others and signed the investigation report.
But without paying the compensation, the company left the country after handing over the responsibility of the gas field to another US company Unocal. The second company later handed over their interest to US company Chevron and left Bangladesh.
However, the total loss in the forest area has been counted TK 9858 crore 31 lakh. Additionally 2,000 feet railway track was damaged which cost TK 81 lakh 54 thousand 395. Furthermore, Tk 21 crore for road and Tk 13 lakh for gas pipeline were reported as loss.
Meanwhile, local organizations, including environmentalists, have been protesting for a long time demanding compensation.
Several organizations are set to observe the day through discussion programs, human chain and various programs on Friday.
Hill Protection and Development Society’s Kamalganj Upazila unit president Monayem Khan said that they have a plan to stage a human chain from Kamalganj upazila complex to Magurchara area.
Khulna, June 13 (UNB)- The Environment Department has come forward with dire warnings regarding the state of pollution in Khulna – particularly air and sound pollution, both of which are now contended as “out of control” by the ED.
Experts say inhaling polluted air causes lung cancer and other lung diseases, while sound pollution beyond tolerable levels causes various problems to the human body.
Khulna Divisional Environment Department revealed a data analysis of air and sound pollution from 2014 to 2018 that actually reveals the truth about a gradual increase of pollution.
Environment Department says 40 decibels to maximum 75 decibels sound level is tolerable during day and night in residential, mixed, industrial areas.
Meanwhile 200 microgram SPM (suspended particulate matter) in 1 cubic meter air is tolerable which is measured by volume sampler.
According to the data of Divisional Environment Department, sound pollution was recorded at 18 points out of 20 in Khulna in 2014. In 2015 it found 14 points of 18 polluted. In 2016, 13 points of 18, in 2017 sound pollution recorded in all of 27 of 28 points and 28 points of 30 were polluted in 2018.
Air pollution beyond tolerable levels was recorded at 7 points out of 25 in 2017 and at 4 points out of 25 in 2018, showing decreasing air pollution in 2017 and 2018 than the previous years.
Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul, coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) said, “Environment Department has been measuring air and sound pollution every year but takes no action to control it. Vehicles are using hydraulic horns in front of schools, hospitals,” he added.
He said brick kilns and battery factories are also violating environment laws triggering pollution.
Khulna Divisional Director of Environment Department Md Habibul Haque Khan said the main causes of sound pollution are easy-bike horns, sub-standard generators in residential areas and several welding workshops in the city.
He noted some specific causes for air pollution as wood burning in brick kilns, absence of dust collectors in cement factories, coal stacking in open place, old battery recycling, burning tyres for making oil and making powder ink from straw burning in the city.
Habibul Haque Khan claimed that his department has been executing drives against air and sound pollution in the city.
The department informed the concerned ministry, as there is no sufficient sound leveling meter and high volume sampler in ten districts of the division, he added.
Prof Dr Dilip Kumar Dutta of Environment Science department of Khulna University said sound pollution causes high blood pressure, decrease of hearing power, and disrupts concentration and sleep. Air pollution causes lung cancer and coughing. It also reduces the oxygen consumption rate.
Prof Dilip also claimed to raise mass awareness about air and sound pollution including law enforcement for effective respite from pollution.
Cox’s Bazar, Jun 12 (UNB) – As they do not see any light of hope for their repatriation to their homeland in Rakhine state, Myanmar with dignity, a large number of Rohingyas are either making desperate move to go abroad illegally or spread to different parts of the country, putting their host Bangladesh in a fresh problem.
Local police and NGO officials said a human trafficking racket is encouraging the Rohingyas, mainly the women, to take the risk of going to Malaysia and Indonesia through the sea or flee camps to collect Bangladeshi passports with fake documents.
The racket is providing the Rohingyas with false documents for collecting passports and helping them escape their camps and contact their relatives living in different Muslim countries.
Even, some Rohingyas are receiving Bangladeshi passports with the help of the human traffickers resorting to various tricks.
Contacted, Brig Gen Saidur Rahman Khan, Project Director (PD) of Introduction of e-Passport and Automated Border Control Management in Bangladesh, told UNB that almost all the Rohingyas took shelter in Bangladesh registered their biometric data.
“We’re taking steps to incorporate the finger prints of Rohingyas in our system so that they can’t get Bangladeshi passports by any means. I hope, the process will be completed by July next,” he added.
Saidur said Rohingyas collect necessary documents for passports showing Bangladeshis as their parents as locals help them.
Local police, BGB members and coastguards intensified their monitoring and launched special drives to prevent the Rohingyas from escaping their camps.
Law enforcers set up eight check posts at Ukhiya and Teknaf while coastguards took position at different points of the Naf River and the Bay of Bengal.
In their separate drives, BGB, Coast Guard and Police detained around 600 Rohingyas over the last one and half months foiling their bid to flee to Malaysia through the sea.
Police super of Cox’s Bazar ABM Masud Hossain said Rohingyas are mainly fleeing their camps through different clandestine ways in hills and jungles.
Besides, he said, the displaced Myanmar nationals are now taking help from local people to learn their language, dress-up style, and way of communication. “So, they now make efforts to escape their camps pretending to be local people.”
Masud also said most of the Rohingyas detained while fleeing their camps were women.
On June 6, police arrested 18 Rohingyas from Cox’s Bazar’s Link Road and produced them before a court.
On May 30, coastguards arrested 56 Rohingyas -- 26 women, 20 men and 10 children -- and two human traffickers from the deep sea while heading towards Malaysia.
Earlier, the law enforcers detained 517 Rohingyas and 32 human traffickers in their different drives. The detained Rohingyas were taken back to their camps while the human traffickers produced before the court.
Some of the Rohingyas who got scattered to different parts of the country were also detained by police.
On May 10, police arrested 23 Rohingyas from Khilkhet area in Dhaka as they were preparing to leave Bangladesh for Malaysia with Bangladeshi passports.
Two Rohingya women were detained at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport while attempting to go to Saudi Arabia by a flight of Kuwait Airlines on May 25.
A day before, police detained 50 Rohingyas during a drive in Kazir Dewri area in Chattogram city and sent them back to their camps.
Besides, around 50 Rohingyas were detained from different parts of the country as they tried to collect passports with fake documents.
Abu Nayeem Nasim, an official at Cox’s Bazar regional passport office, said they have already identified some 300 applications submitted by Rohingyas for collecting passports.
Nayeem said they are now very careful in issuing passports so that Rohingyas cannot get that with false documents.
Saikat Biswas, an official at Inter Sector Coordination Group (ISCG), said many Rohingyas are desperate to go abroad seeking a better life as there is no progress in their repatriation process.
Besides, he said, some Rohingyas are contacting their relatives who stay abroad and taking their help to flee Bangladesh through various ways.
Saikat feared Bangladesh may face a fresh problem if Rohingyas continue to flee their camps.
Abul Kalam, refugee relief and repatriation commissioner of Bangladesh, said it is a very tough job to control 12 lakh Rohingyas. “They’re making various efforts to either go abroad or spread to different parts of the country. Many of them have already left their camps.”
He said they are taking various steps to stop it by intensifying monitoring on the Rohingyas. “We’re strongly dealing with the issue and law enforcers are also playing an active role so that Rohingyas can’t flee their camps.”
Sheuly Sharma, Executive director of Jago Nari Unnoyon Sangsta who is working for the welfare of the women in the camps here, said many Rohingya girls now dream of getting married going to Malaysia. “Most Rohingya girls have a perception that they’ll have good husbands and a better life if they can go to Malaysia by any means as human traffickers gave them such an idea.”
Iqbal Hossain, Additional Police Superintendent of the district, said it is difficult to check the trafficking of Rohingya as they are willing to leave Bangladesh. “The situation has turned critical as the local human traffickers are assisting them.”
He said the government can erect barbed wire fences around the Rohingya camps to limit their movement.
Dhaka, June 11 (UNB)- The plastic goods sector, which has tremendous potential to capture a chunk of the global market, will flourish further if a specialized industrial zone and modern recycling system could be established for producing environment-friendly products, according to business insiders.
The country’s plastic goods industry is booming due to availability of raw materials at a cheaper rate, government policy support, manufacturing efficiency and production of diversified goods, they said.
Besides, China has moved towards high-tech industries, creating a massive chance for Bangladeshi plastic goods exporters to raise their share in the global market for plastics, expected to reach USD 721.14 billion by 2025, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc.
According to the latest statistics of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the export earnings from plastic products in the first 10 months of the current fiscal increased by 23.6 percent over the corresponding figure during the last fiscal.
The export of plastic goods during July-April period of the 2018-2019 fiscal was $100.35 million, against $81.19 million dollar during the corresponding period of 2017-2018, according to EPB data.
Business insiders said Bangladesh has only 0.6 percent shares of the $546 billion global plastic market. The country now manufactures around 100 plastic items and the number is increasing day by day.
They mainly export products especially household items, medicine packs and garment accessories to the US, Canada, European countries, Australia, China, Malaysia, some Middle East countries, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
According to a new study by Grand View Research, the global plastic market is expected to reach $654.38 billion by 2020.
One of the country’s leading plastic goods manufacturers Bengal Group of Industries’ Vice Chairman Jasim Uddin told UNB that Bangladeshi plastic products are gaining popularity in the world market day by day.
“If we had modern recycling system than we could further assist the sector to take a big jump for country’s economy. The use of plastic goods continued to increase, the export of the products is expected to increase more in the years to come,” he said.
“We have huge opportunities to catch the global markets in future. We need policy support from the government. Moreover, awareness should be raised among people so that they don’t throw plastic wastes here and there. A good collection system of plastic wastes will ease the recycling process,” he said.
Bangladesh Plastic Goods Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BPGMEA) president Mohammad Jasim Uddin said they export plastic items to more than 60 countries.
“Most of them are European countries. The products demand is also increasing there. So we can take the opportunity if the government supports us properly.”
“There are 5000 small, medium and large plastic factories in our country where around 12 lakh people are engaged. Revenue worth around Tk 3000 crore comes from the plastic sector,” he also said.
He said as an immediate measure the plastic factories set up haphazardly in Old Dhaka need to be relocated soon. “We have set Road Map-2030 for the plastic sector to turn it into a modern and ‘eco-friendly’ industry. So we demand the government to set up an industrial park in Keraniganj.”
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said although plastic sector has been making some contributions to the country’s economy, its environmental impacts need to be considered.
“Now some countries import our plastic products because they have reduced the items’ production. At some point they can stop import of plastic goods. So we should think of alternatives so that we do not face any problems in future.”