Dhaka, Aug 18 (UNB) – Experts have blamed the lack of policy, syndication by tanners, their ‘cash crunch’ and a fall in the demand for leather products for the unprecedented fall in the prices of rawhide of sacrificed animals this year.
The drastic fall in rawhide prices forced seasonal traders in different districts, including Dhaka, Chattogram, Narayanganj, Narsingdi, Sylhet, Rajshahi and Khulna, to throw away thousands of pieces of rawhide of cows, goats and buffaloes during Eid-ul-Azha.
Many also buried the rawhide under the ground failing to get the expected prices while others sold it at throwaway prices.
Talking to UNB, a number of seasonal traders said cowhide was sold between Tk 100 and Tk 200 a piece this year whereas the usual price is around Tk 2,000.
Rezaul Bepari, seasonal rawhide trader from Shariatpur, said he bought 200 pieces of rawhide this year at Tk 150-Tk 250 apiece but wholesalers offered him less than the purchasing prices for those. “I have been doing the business for many years. Once there’s a huge demand for rawhide and it was a profitable business. But the price is now very low. Besides, there’s no value of goat hide this year,” he said.
President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) Ghulam Rahman said a syndicate by unscrupulous businessmen might be behind the drastic slump in rawhide prices. “Tannery owners claimed in one hand that they couldn’t yet sell their last year’s leather, but they’re urging the government not to allow rawhide export on the other hand.”
Actually, they are trying to make extra profits through this but it cannot be allowed, he said.
Ghulam Rahman said the prices of finished leather products are high here and so there is no logical reason behind the fall in rawhide prices. “The matter should be investigated thoroughly and punishment must be meted out to the dishonest businessmen.”
Md Shaheen Ahmed, Chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA), claimed that tannery owners are facing a cash crunch as they had to make huge investments for relocating tanneries to Savar from Hazaribagh.
He also said around 30-40 percent tanneries are yet to start production after their relocation to Savar from Hazaribagh in 2017.
Abdur Rahman, a sales executive of GM Leather Collection of the city, said the demand for natural rawhide has seen a decline as the markets here are flooded with artificial leather goods.
“Prices of footwear or other leather products depend on quality. A pair of shoes made from genuine leather is sold at Tk 4,000-Tk 10,000 but shoes made from artificial leather is sold at Tk 1500-Tk 3500,” he added.
Rahman also said at least five pairs of shoes can be produced from a cowhide. “But there’s a lengthy process to make a pair of shoes and it shoots up the production cost.”
Dr Mohammad Mahfuz Kabir, research director of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), said rawhide prices went down unprecedentedly this year due to the absence of timely and proper decision by the government.
“The rawhide prices would not have seen the drastic fall had the government taken the export decision earlier. There should a policy reform that rawhide can be exported during Eid season only,” he said.
Meanwhile, madrasas that received thousands of pieces of rawhide in donation during Eid-ul-Azha failed to sell those due to reluctance from merchants.
Mufti Monirul Islam, a teacher of Qawmi madrasa in Keraniganj, said they used to earn Tk several lakh from the sales of rawhide every year in the past which could meet almost 70 percent of the madrasa’s expenses. “But we could manage little money from rawhide sales this time following cheap rate. We’re worried about bearing the cost of orphans this year,” he said.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Bangladesh earned $1.01 billion by exporting leather, leather goods and leather footwear in the fiscal year of 2018-19. The export earnings from the leather sector were $1.08 billion in the FY2017-18.
Dhaka, Aug 17 (UNB) – There is nothing new in slum fire in Dhaka city. When it happens, it leaves thousands of people in deep despair. Over 20,000 slum dwellers turned paupers within hours in Friday night’s fast-moving fire in the city’s Mirpur area.
“We’ve lost all that we had -- fans, utensils, clothes and money whatever. We’ve been left with nothing,” said Khaleda Begum, a resident of the Chalantika Slum in Mirpur area.
Almost all the shanties -- around 3,000 in number -- were gutted by the fire that was doused after six hours of frantic efforts.
“I saw the fire erupting from a room owned by Farid and came out of the slum to save our lives leaving the belongings behind,” said a devastated Khaleda, 35, wife of rickshaw-puller Belal who used to live in a hut of the slum for Tk 2,700 per month.
She said she could save nothing of her belongings as she was more concerned about the safety of life.
Like Khaleda, all the inmates of the slum lost everything to the devastating fire that originated at a shanty around 7:22pm on Friday before being fully doused around 1:30am on Saturday.
Slum dwellers claimed that the fire originated from a room owned by Farid, a dentist quack, who possessed eight rooms at the slum. However, authorities concerned were yet to confirm it.
Minara Begum, 35, wife of Siddique Hossain, bought four rooms from Farid five months ago. She was living in two of those while the rest two were rented to others. “I saw flames flickering from a locked room owned by Farid and shouted for help.”
The fire might have been originated from a gas cylinder or electrical short circuit, she said.
Monwara Begum, wife of Iskander Shikder, who had been living in the slum for the last three decades, owned 12 rooms. She along with her five children and husband used to reside in two of them and rented 10 others out to others for Tk 1,000-Tk 2,000 each. “Everything I had got destroyed overnight,” she said.
Rehana, 30, along with her husband Jewel and two sons -- Shaheen, 10 and Sabbir, 7 -- had been living in a room at Tk 2,000 per month. “I stormed out of the slum along with my two sons as soon as I noticed the blaze without thinking of saving the belongings,” she said.
While inmates said there were some 3,000 shanties in the slum, local MP Elias Mollah put the figure at 20,000-25,000.
The slum was established on around 25- 30 bighas of government wetland where the influential built houses on bamboo and wood pillars and rented those out to low-income people. The slum had narrow entrances on all four sides.
Md Rezaul Karim, assistant director of Fire Service and Civil Defence, on Saturday morning said an investigation committee will be formed soon to find out the reason behind the fire.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam and local MP Elias Mollah visited the spot on Friday night.
Talking to reporters at the spot, the mayor said shelter centres were opened at local schools for the victims while the city corporation would arrange food for them.
According to the World Bank, Dhaka has got a population of over 1.80 crore with some 35 lakh living in slums.
Dhaka, Aug 17 (UNB) – Unlike previous years, Eid joy eluded septuagenarian Ambia Khatun this time. She could not celebrate Eid-ul-Azha with her grandchildren as she is fighting against dengue lying on a hospital bed.
On Wednesday, two days after the second largest religious festival of Muslims, one of her grandchildren was also hospitalised with dengue, adding to her agony.
Ambia, a resident of Jinjira in Keraniganj on the outskirts of the capital, was admitted to Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital on the Eid day on August 12 as she was suffering from dengue.
She is not the only person of the family to be infected with the mosquito-borne disease but also her grandson Yasin Hossain, 9, granddaughter Sabina, 22, and Sabina’s husband have had the disease.
Of them, Yasin was taken to the same hospital on Wednesday. Although the two others made recovery, they still have to visit hospitals for tests.
“We’ve been living in Jinjira for the last 50 years but never saw such a mosquito menace. The dengue outbreak has turned dangerous due to the negligence of the two Dhaka city corporations. The authorities concerned take rest in AC rooms but don’t spray mosquito repellent or clean areas,” she told UNB.
Ambia said she first complained of high temperature and stomachache on August 9. “I thought the temperature will subside before the Eid day but the physical condition was deteriorating day by day. When I was admitted to the hospital on the Eid day, my blood platelet count was 79,000. It has come down to 24,000 now.”
She said doctors are giving her saline, and paracetamol thrice a day but she is yet to make recovery.
The elderly woman also accused some nurses and ayas of being rude. “They’re rude. The environment at the hospital is not clean either…toilets are very dirty. How patients will recover?”
Another patient, Yasin Hossain, hailing from Dholaikhal in the capital said he was admitted to the hospital three days ago with dengue. “Although the fever subsided, I’m yet to recover fully. I’m taking medicines and rest here,” he said expressing the hope that he will be discharged from the hospital soon.
Duty doctor Sharmin told UNB that they arranged spaces on different floors as there is a huge pressure of dengue patients at the hospital.
Besides, many patients go back after taking treatment, she said. “Generally, we keep patients here for 3-4 days. If patient’s condition worsens and the blood platelet count comes down below 150,000, the duration might be increased.”
Gayatri Debi Mondol, nurse supervisor of the hospital, said there were 379 dengue patients as of Friday noon. Of them, 72 patients were admitted on Friday. “The number of dengue patients is increasing here day by day. Many throng the hospital with fever but we allow only real dengue patients to get admitted after the blood test. We try to serve patients better here,” she said.
She also said four people died of dengue at the hospital this week.
Mentioning that Aedes mosquitos are born within 48 hours from larvae, the nurse supervisor said the city corporations should spray repellant regularly to destroy the larvae.
Senior staff nurse Selina Khatun said she was serving at the Dengue Ward on the hospital’s second building where 100 beds were installed for dengue patients but 112 are currently taking treatment there.
During a visit to Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH), this correspondent found huge dengue patients lying on floors for lack of beds although Sheikh Hasina National Institute of Burn And Plastic Surgery is now being used as the dengue unit.
Sharifa Begum, 45, who came from Hazaribagh of the city, said she has been suffering from dengue for the last several days. “I’m on the floor as I didn’t get any bed. Doctors and nurses come here and provide me treatment,” she said.
A Dhaka Medical College student, Iti Akhter, told UNB that she was admitted to the hospital on August 8 with dengue. “I couldn’t go to my village home in Pirojpur to celebrate Eid. I was infected with dengue when I was staying in a mess-house at Chankharpool.”
She, however, said her condition is now better. “I’ll be released from the hospital shortly.”
According to the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), at least 1,460 patients infected with dengue were admitted to hospitals in last 24 hours till Saturday morning.
It said 51,476 people were hospitalised with dengue since January this year. Of them, 43,580 had made full recovery.
Currently, 7,856 patients are undergoing treatment at different hospitals and clinics.
The government has so far confirmed 40 deaths although unofficial estimates suggest the death toll is much higher.
Cumilla, Aug 17 (UNB) – Things in Cumilla Central Jail are no longer monotonous or painful for its prisoners as the prison authorities have allowed them to spend their time in a productive way.
The jail authorities have engaged them in various income-generating activities like making handicrafts and other products, aiming to make them both self-reliant and skilled ones.
The jail authorities have been providing training to its convicted male and female prisoners in handicraft production with a view to improving their skills so that they do not get involved in crimes again when they will be out of jail and earn their livelihoods on their own, jail officials said.
They said the products made by the prisoners in the jail are being sold at the prison’s sales and exhibition centre, and different fairs in the capital as well.
According to them, more than 300 prisoners have been making handicraft items and nakshikantha in the jail.
Shahanaz Begum, Deputy Jailer of Cumilla Central Jail, said the handicraft products are being sold at the prison’s sales and exhibition centre round the year.
The products made by the prisoners here have a high demand at the annual Dhaka International Trade Fair and other fairs, she said adding the prisoners are receiving their fair shares from the sales of their products, which is bringing a positive mental change in them, too.
When they will return to the normal life after serving their jail terms, they will not remain unemployed for long as they are becoming skilled human resources, said Forkan Wahid, Jailer of the Cumilla Central Jail.
The Cumilla District Jail, which was turned into a central jail in 1962, now has some 3,000 prisoners against its capacity of accommodating 1,742.
Sylhet, Aug 16 (UNB) – Jara Lemon, a special kind of lemon grown by farmers in Jaintapur and Goainghat upazilas, appeares to be a profit-making fruit as it is being exported after meeting the local demand.
Its cultivation is gaining popularity among farmers as more than 200 families in the two upazilas have become self-reliant by cultivating the fruit.
Chiknagul, Haripur, and Fatehpur in Jaintapur uapzila, and Banigram in Goainghat upazila are suitable for Jara Lemon cultivation due to its hilly lands.
Jara Lemon is being commercially cultivated in Shyampur, Haripur, Agerkhal, Shikarkhan, Uthlarpar villages under Foteypur union; Umanpur, Panichhara, Thakurer Mati villages under Chiknagul union; Kalinanjibari in Nijpat union and Banigram village under Fatehpur union in Goainghat upazila.
It is being exported to the UK, the USA, Singapore, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and other parts of the Middle East.
Abdul Jabbar, a farmer of Bagerkhal village in Jaintapur upazila, said,” We're cultivating Jara Lemon commercially now but our ancestors used to produce it only to meet the family need.”
Another farmer, Shamsul Islam, said they used to receive fertilizers and insecticides from the government in the past but now they do not get any such support.
“If we get good quality seeds and necessary training, the production will be much higher than what it is now,” he added.
Shamsul further said he made a profit of Tk 1 lakh in the current season from Jara cultivation with five labourers working in his lemon garden.
Farmers of these areas are showing more interest in Jara farming due to its high production and better prospect of making profit.
Dr Mahmudul Hasan Nazrul, the chief scientific officer of Jaintapur Citrus Research Center, said the land and weather of Jaintapur are very much suitable for citrus fruit cultivation.
The research centre has been providing regular training and seeds to the local farmers, he added.