Dhaka, Mar 7 (UNB) - An evening of thumping bass, soaring solos, flashy rhythmic lights, surrounded by thousands of young faces, all in sync with the songs that touch every Bangladeshi’s soul, performed by the top names of the country’s band music scene.
Come to think of it, what could work better to capture the spirit of March 7 than the inherently rebellious, almost subversive ethos of a rock concert?
But the electric performances and the wild youths are just a part of the gathering titled Joy Bangla Concert 2019, an endeavour of the Centre for Research and Information (CRI), the Awami League’s think-tank, and Young Bangla, a youth-centred initiative of the government.
The fifth edition of the concert was held Thursday at the Army Stadium with a view to spreading the spirit of independence and the lessons of Bangabandhu among the youth of the country.
This year’s liner-up brought together the top shelf of Bangla bands --- Bay of Bengal, Chirkutt, Shunno, Lalon, Nemesis, Arbovirus, Cryptic Fate, and Artcell, each taking the glimmering stage one after another. Besides their usual setlist, each act also included a rendition of a song from the legendary Shwadhin Bangla Betar Kendro’s famed back-catalogue, our ‘Songs of Freedom’.
Despite the throbbing performances, pride of place of course went to the playback of the all-important speech that marked this day in 1971, recently restored to a colour version. And interspersed with them were promotional videos of several government-initiated welfare projects.
Upon entering the venue, UNB correspondent found it full to the brim with audience scattered around the gallery and the outfield. Many of them were sitting in small circles all with sweaty but glowing faces cheerful about the roaring music.
Most of the attendees UNB spoke to were of the view that through such events the young generation can connect more with the true spirit of the Liberation War. Some complained about the long queues to get in.
"We had to wait for a long time before entering the field. Once we were past the gate, the exciting atmosphere took over the tiredness," said Shaila, a student of Green University.
As time progressed, the audience kept growing, and by the end people of almost all classes and age groups filled the venue.
Wahid Rahman, a service holder along with his minor boy was found sitting in the eastern gallery. "I feel that in a way I am instilling the spirit of Liberation War in my child by introducing him to freedom-loving youth of ours," he said.
As the line up kept reaching down, from Shunno to Bay of Bengal; then Arbovirus, Cryptic Fate and Nemesis; lastly bringing Lalon and Chirkutt together. Finally leaving the crowd for Artcell.
Evening made way for a night where smartphones became stars among the crowd all connecting to the common theme: Bangabandhu's cry for independence and its commemoration.
If the spectacle of the fifth Joy Bangla Concert is anything to go by, most attendees would already be looking forward to the next one.
Dhaka, Mar 7 (UNB) - Bangladesh has been positioned 47th on a new global index that ranks countries in terms of their vulnerability, prevalence, and response to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.
Consultancy firm Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, a Geneva-based NGO network of experts, have developed the index for a detailed analysis of fishery countries’ vulnerability, exposure, and responses to IUU fishing.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has funded the index.
It has ranked all 152 countries that have a maritime coastline. Bangladesh’s score is 2.41, a little less than the global average of 2.29 (1 the best, 5 the worst).
Overall, the world IUU score is 2.29. Belgium ranks the most favorable on the Index, with a score of 1.43 for all indicators, followed by Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Poland.
China, Indonesia, Russian Federation and Cambodia are each among the 10 worst performing countries for two out of the three indicator types.
This position on the ‘IUU Fishing Index’ serves as a call to action, though it is better than many European countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal and regional powers like Japan, China, and India.
This illegal fishing issue is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indicator 14.6.1 of SDGs, related to SDG 14 ‘Life Below Water’, is dedicated to measuring achievements made towards the ambitious target of eliminating IUU fishing by 2020.
Updated on a regular basis, this IUU index can serve as a useful addition to the monitoring the SDG indicator, according to its website.
It will also be beneficial to those with management responsibilities in governments and regional fisheries management organisations.
Those wishing to fund activities aimed at reducing IUU fishing, civil society, and consumers, and others, such as seafood buyers, looking to ensure that their sourcing of product responds to an impetus to buy from sustainable sources also use this index data.
Fish is a highly traded commodity and one of the most traded segments of the world food sector.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s leading fish producing countries with a total production of 4.13 million MT. The government’s target is to reach 4.55 million MT by 2020-21.
Bangladesh exports frozen shrimp, other fish and fisheries products to more than 50 countries, including Belgium, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, the USA, China, France, Russian Federation, Japan and Saudi Arabia.
In 2016-17, the country earned Tk 42876.40 million by exporting almost 68.31 thousand MT of fish and fisheries products, according to the government statistics.
More than 11 percent of total Bangladeshis are engaged with this sector in full time and part-time basis for their livelihoods.
Chandpur, Mar 5 (UNB) - Students of a government primary school in Kachua upazila have been attending classes under the open sky for the last few weeks as their school building has turned dilapidated and too risky for use.
There are 300 students and five teachers at Govindapur Govt Primary School situated at a remote village under Gohat union of the upazila.
The school building was constructed in 1993. However, it has now become dilapidated and too risky for taking classes.
Locals alleged that the building has turned derelict within a so short period of time due to poor quality of work.
They also said the matter was brought to the notice of the higher authorities concerned for several times but no initiative has been taken to either renovate the building or construct a new one.
Teachers had been taking classes in the risky building for the sake of students’ future, said Shahinur Akter, headmistress of the school.
However, the managing committee of the school a few weeks back asked them to abandon the school building, fearing that it might collapse anytime, she said. “This has forced the students to attend classes under the open sky by the dilapidated school building as no alternative could be arranged.”
She also said they will face a great difficulty in taking classes in the rainy season unless the school building is renovated or an alternative arrangement is in place for an interim period.
The headmistress said she informed the matter to Assistant Upazila Primary Education Officer Md Monir Hossain.
Mohammad Selim Miaji, guardian of a student, said they are worried about their children as they were attending classes under the open sky.
Upazila Primary Education Officer AHM Shahriar Rasul said work on constructing a new building for the school will begin soon as a tender process is underway to this end.
He along with Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nilima Afroze and other officials concerned visited the school building on Monday.
During the visit, the UNO assured school managing committee President Jahirul Islam and locals of taking steps soon to resolve the problem.
Cox’s Bazar, Mar 4 (UNB) – Despite having huge potentials to emerge as green beach town, Cox’s Bazar is gradually turning into a polluted place for its unplanned growth, poor waste management and sewerage system.
Hundreds of concrete buildings, including residential hotels, multipurpose buildings and studio apartments, have been developed in the town defying environmental laws.
It has turned into a town of ‘brick and concrete’ without having any wide road, drain and modern sewerage system.
As there is no adequate trash bin, people toss litters everywhere, making the town unclean and unlivable.
Discarded plastic bags, papers, cigarette butts, fruit and vegetable skins and other things are thrown indiscriminately. The handful of trash bins the town now has are not cleaned regularly.
“This has become a serious problem for the people living in Cox’s Bazar,” said Mansur Alam, a resident of Kolatoli area of the town.
He said, “As garbage is dumped here and there and sewerage flows out on roads, bad odur constantly spreads in the air. The huge presence of tourists and poor sewerage system make the tiny town dirty and unhealthy.”
Cox’s Bazar municipality mayor Mujibur Rahman said encroachers grabbed many water bodies and canals in the town, shrinking those and hampering the drainage system.
He said the district administration and the municipality authority have prepared a list of 129 canal grabbers and a drive will be conducted soon to evict them.
Recently, the Department of Environment (DoE) served a notice on 300 residential hotels to install sewerage treatment plants (STPs) but only seven hotels complied with the DoE order.
Last year, the DoE fined Tk five lakh to ‘Nirshorgo Hotel’ while Tk 2 lakh to M/s Imagine hotel at Kalatoli for not having STPs. But no other steps were taken since then.
Visiting different areas of the town, the UNB correspondent found garbage dumped in the beach area and then burnt, which creates black smoke and pollutes the environment.
Besides, over 1,000 establishments have been built on the beach adjacent to Najirartek, Samity para, Borchara and Reju khal areas.
Assistant director of DOE Kamrul Hasan said environment in the town and the beach area is getting polluted in different ways every day.
“Necessary steps will be taken after identifying the causes of pollution and those responsible for it,” he said.
Saiful Asrab, an assistant director at Cox’s Bazar DoE, said a number of high-rise buildings have been built without taking any clearance from the DoE and following other legal procedures.
Seven hotels have installed STPs while eight others sought three months’ time to install STPs, he said, adding that legal action will be taken against the authorities concerned if they fail to set up STPs.
Moazzem Hossain, chairman of Save the Nature, said the environment of the tourist town is being polluted for not setting up STPs by the hotel authorities. If the authorities concerned do not take effective measures immediately then Cox’s Bazar will turn into a city of bad odour, he said.
Azmal Huda, general secretary of Cox’s Bazar Forest and Environment Preservation Council, said the town become unsuitable for living in near future due to the environmental pollution and unplanned construction of high-rises.
Besides, Cox’s Bazar which has been hosting over 1 million Rohingyas since August 25, 2017 is facing serious environmental risk as their presence has made a significant impact on its environment.
Since the influx in August 2017, coupled with the host community and Rohingyas from past influxes, the crisis-hit population is now almost 1.5 million in Cox’s Bazar, creating a massive pressure on the already dilapidated environment there which still remains significantly underfunded, according a United Nations report.
Some 4300 acres of hills and forests were cut down to make temporary shelters for Rohingyas and ensure facilities and cooking fuel for them in Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar, threatening the biodiversity of the ecologically critical areas of the country, said the UN report in September last year.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women with support from the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change jointly carried out the study titled ‘Environmental Impact of Rohingya Influx.
The report highlighted the critical impacts of one of the world’s biggest influx of above 700,000 Rohingyas on the environment of Cox’s Bazar and recommended measures for migration, restoration and conversation.
Of the total 1502 hectares of forests, about 793 hectares have been encroached, says the report.
Around 3000-4000 acres (1200-1600 ha) of hilly land in Teknaf-Ukhia Himchari watershed area have been cleared of vegetation.
Identifying the encroachment as the key cause, the report says nearly 6,800 tonnes of fuel wood are collected each month and each of the Rohingya families use on average 60 culms of bamboo to construct their temporary residences at the top and slopes of hills.
Due to the indiscriminate hill cutting to provide shelters to the Rohingyas, the terrain of the hills has lost their natural setting, causing a potential risk of landslides.
According to information provided at a programme arranged by UNDP in October last, this huge population generates some 10,000 tonnes of waste a month causing adverse impacts on health and environment.
Dhaka, Mar 3 (UNB) – Though the recent strong drive against river encroachers raised a new hope for protecting the country’s rivers, green activists think the desired success cannot be achieved unless proper steps are taken to keep the reclaimed lands out of the clutches of grabbers.
Just after recovering the occupied river lands, the authorities concerned will have to set up demarcation pillars, give the river land to rivers back by dredging, planting trees, building walkways on the river banks and ensuring monitoring by river police to prevent the reoccupation of the reclaimed lands as happened in the past, they said.
The green activists also suggested engaging local people in the river protection efforts so that they can resist the grabbers and inform law enforcers if anyone makes any fresh effort to occupy the retrieved land.
Officials at the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) said they bulldozed 1721 illegal structures, including several multistoried buildings built by influential people, along the Buriganga and Turag rivers in the first phase of their drive between January 29 and February 20.
BIWTA Joint Director (port) AKM Arif Uddin said they also recovered around 35 acres of grabbed land during their first phase of the eviction drive.
He said they will launch the second phase drive on March 5 and gradually reclaim the occupied lands of all other rivers.
The government has intensified the drives in the capital and elsewhere as the High Court on January 30 last described rivers as a “legal entity” and asked the authorities concerned to act like their “guardians” to save them from grabbers and pollution.
Contacted, Ainun Nishat, Professor Emeritus of BRAC University, and water resource specialist, said BIWTA is demolishing the structures erected by filling rivers. “I think the authorities should now back the recovered lands to rivers by dredging or excavating those to ensure their proper flow.”
Or else, he said, the recovered lands will be either misused by the BIWTA or encroached again by the influential people.
Iqbal Habib, an architect and member secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said it seems the government is carrying out the current drive with sincerity. “But we saw many such drives in the past. A few days after recovering the river lands, the encroachers recaptured those for lack of monitoring and necessary steps to protect those.”
He said strong riverbank protection measures are needed to be taken right now instead of only deploying some Ansar members to guard the repossessed land.
“Demarcation pillars will have to set up first. Then, sapling will have to be planted on the riverbanks alongside constant monitoring by the river police. Finally, walkways will have to be made. Otherwise, the encroachers will again relish on the river land,” he said.
Habib said involving local people with the process of river protection steps is necessary. “A digital map will have to be created so that local people can easily identify the river lands.”
Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) Chairman Abu Naser Khan said the government must continue the drive across the country until all the occupied river lands are recovered.
He said the land grabbers should also be given exemplary punishment so that no one dare occupy river lands in the future.
Naser also said the government will have to empower National River Conservation Commission (NRCC) as per the High Court order so that it can work as a strong authority to protect the rivers and take action against the encroachers and polluters.
NRCC Chairman Dr Muzibur Rahman Howlader said they have already directed all the deputy commissioners to submit a report by each on river pollution and grabbing in their respective districts by February 28.
“We’ve received some reports by the time, and we’re expecting to get the rest shortly. Once we get all the reports, we’ll asses those for working out the next course of action,” he said.
Besides, Rahman said they visited around 60 districts over the last one year and held meetings with every district’s River Protection Committee members involving a cross section of people, including environmentalists, civil society members, local elite and administration.
“We’re now making a detailed report on the problems of the rivers and water bodies across the country with suggestions for their solutions. We’re expecting to hand over the report to the Prime Minister by this month,” he said.
The NRCC chief said no one will be able to remerge on the recovered river lands this time as the government has taken various projects for the protection and development of rivers.
He said they will propose taking some crash programmes to secure the recovered lands and free the rivers from pollution. “We’ll also propose engaging adequate number of river police to regularly monitor and protect the rivers. We’re working out various programmes and action plans to work as a true guardian of the rivers as per the direction of the High Court.”