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.
Dhaka, Jan 29 (UNB) - Different student bodies have demanded that the Dhaka University authorities take necessary steps to ensure the peaceful coexistence of leaders and activists of all organisations on the campus to make the much-awaited Ducsu election a participatory one.
The university authorities on January 23 announced to hold the elections to Dhaka University Central Students’ Union (Ducsu) and hall unions on March 11.
With this, the long-pending Ducsu election is going to be held after 28 years as the last one was held on June 6, 1990.
The announcement of the polls date without resolving various issues, including finalisation of voter list and amendment to the Ducsu charter, raised questions about the authorities’ sincerity to hold a free and participatory election, alleged leaders of different student organisations.
Talking to UNB, Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) DU unit president AL Mehedi Hasan Talukder expressed his disappointment over the issues, saying, “The first condition of a participatory election is the coexistence of leaders and supporters of all parties on the campus. But the cadres of Bangladesh Chhatra League are not allowing any JCD leader and activist to stay at residential halls. Even the opposition activists can’t attend the classes and appear in exams. We demand that the university administration create equal facilities for all.”
“They (authorities) are yet to publish the final voter list and confirm where the booths will be set up. We don’t understand how they announced the election date without resolving the issues,” he added.
Bangladesh Chhatra Union DU unit president Foez Ullah said, “If the authorities would have announced the date after publishing the final voter list and necessary amendment to the Ducsu charter, it would have been better for us to take preparations.”
Welcoming the announcement of polls date, BCL DU President Sonjit Chandra Das told UNB, “We’re welcoming the decision and hope that they’ll fix an age limit and find out acceptable path for the candidates. But it would have been better had the authorities resolved the issues before the announcement of the date. We’re still not clear as to who can contest the polls or who will be allowed to vote.”
The university authorities had arranged several meetings with student bodies and hall provosts, where they gave proposals to bring amendments to some parts of the Ducsu charter as it is not time-befitting.
All the student bodies at the last meeting of Paribesh Parishad, a council comprising the university authorities and the representatives of students’ organisations, demanded increasing the age limit to 30 for candidates and announcing the final list of voters.
Meanwhile, most of the student organisations, including JCD and left-leaning ones, demanded steps to ensure equal political coexistence of the activists of student wings of different political parties on the campus.
They also demanded setting up election booths at the academic buildings of the university instead of residential halls over security concerns.
Chief returning officer of Ducsu polls Prof SM Mahfuzur Rahman said they were preparing the complete schedule for the polls which would be announced within a short time.
He also said work to bring amendment to the Ducsu charter, devise electoral code of conduct and finalise the voter list is going on in full swing.
On January 17, 2018, the High Court ordered the Dhaka University authorities to take steps to hold the Ducsu elections within in six months.
Earlier on January 6, the Supreme Court vacated its earlier order that stayed a High Court order asking the Dhaka University authorities to take necessary steps within the next six months to hold the Ducsu election.
On November 1, 2018, the DU authorities published the draft voter list for the elections.
According to the draft voter list, a total of 38,493 regular students -- 23,984 males and 14,509 females -- will be able to exercise their voting rights during the Ducsu and hall union polls.
Sylhet, Jan 28 (UNB) – Unlike the able-bodied ones, people with physical disabilities, especially those sans legs, cannot move without the help of others. Even if they use manual wheelchairs, they sometimes need support from others to operate those.
But, three students of a private university here designed a special electric wheelchair with their absolute brilliance to remove their worries. Physically-challenged people now can operate the wheelchair with a finger without anyone’s help.
Shafiqul Alam, Jasim Uddin and Md Zihad Al-Sabah, students of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) department of Leading University have designed the wheelchair under the supervision of their teachers Ashraful Islam and Abu Shakil Ahmed.
The students said they have devised the wheelchair considering those who have lost their legs. Using the wheelchair, such people will be able to move to any direction -– right, left, front and back -- by pressing a button with any finger.
There is an automatic electronic brake system attached to the wheelchair, devised fully using local technology, which is the first in the country, they said. There is no need to apply the brakes if any object comes its way.
Electric light and horn have been attached to the chair for smooth movement at night.
The students also said they were working to make sure that the wheelchair is controlled using brain in the future.
Mentioning that the wheelchair can especially be used at hospitals and clinics, they sought assistance either from the government or any non-governmental organisation to market it.
Vice-chancellor of the Leading University Prof Dr M Qumruzzaman Chowdhury and chairman of EEE department Associate Professor Rumel MS Rahman Pir are excited at the feat of their students.