Dhaka, Jan 15 (UNB) – The government is likely to revoke three more solar park projects in the private sector as the implementing agencies have failed to make any progress though the deadlines of the projects expired.
The government has already issued ‘Event of Default Notice (EDN)’, the initial process to terminate a contract, to the sponsors of the projects to this end, Power Division Joint Secretary (Renewable Energy) Mohammad Alauddin told UNB.
The three projects are 32 MW Sunamganj Solar Park, 50 MW Mymensingh Solar Park and 5 MW Lalmonirhat Solar Park.
Earlier, the government cancelled the 200 MW Teknaf Solar Park project as US firm SunEdison failed to implement it as per the schedule.
However, the executing agency has moved the international arbitration challenging the government’s decision.
Sources said state-owned Power Development Board (PDB) signed a contract with Edison-Power Point & Haor Bangla-Korea Green Energy Ltd to implement the 32 MW Sunamganj Solar Park by August 15, 2017 while the 50 MW Mymensingh Solar Park was awarded to Hetat-Detrolic-IFDC Solar to set up the plant by April 19, 2018 and Green Housing and Energy Ltd (PV) Power Patgram was scheduled to install the 5 MW Lalmonirhat Solar Park by January 29, 2018.
Under the agreements, the PDB was supposed to purchase electricity from the projects at different prices for the next 15 years.
But all the sponsors failed to implement the projects as per the schedules, a PDB official said, adding that their failure has prompted the government to issue the EDN.
“Actually, the EDN is the initial process to cancel a contract with a project sponsor. If they fail to respond to the notice, the government will then move to terminate their contracts and cancel the projects,” said a senior PDB official.
Another PDB official, however, said of the three companies, Edison-Power Point-Haor Bangla had appealed for extending time which was granted, but there was no substantial progress in the project. He said Hetat-Detrolic-IFDC Solar had also sought time extension.
Officials said the issue was discussed at a Power Division review meeting on November 11 with Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus in the chair.
The meeting asked the project directors concerned to submit reports in the next review meeting to be held within a three-month period from the previous meeting on their further actions regarding the projects, said a source present at the meeting.
Dhaka, Jan 14 (UNB) – In the mazelike streets of Old Dhaka, the rooftops of high-rises display a show unlike any other. Starting with the iconic kite flying in the afternoon, the festival, marking the end of Bangla month Poush, keeps getting brighter as night descends.
Residents of this particular area of the capital celebrate the southward journey of the sun from the tropic of Capricorn to the tropic of Cancer. The festival, which usually takes place from January 14-15, is also known as Makar (Capricorn) Shankranti.
The afternoon sky, swarming with colourful kites of various sizes, offers an unforgettable sight.
As the sun bids farewell to the day, ‘fanoosh’ (colourful paper lanterns) dot the sky like small fireflies. The celebrations turn merrier when people are greeted with pithas and traditional cuisine.
In this age of social media, colourful images of the festival attract people from all over the capital to Old Dhaka.
Many people like Jagannath University student Ullash Chowdhury, work throughout the day to prepare kites. Ullash says he considers Shakrain as something closer to his roots.
“I was born in Old Dhaka and have grown up enjoying this annual festival. The kites, high pitched music and other features of this time is a break from our routine lives,” he says. “The festival also gives us a chance to strengthen our bonds with families and friends.”
For Wari resident Sheikh Humayra Kabir, Shakrain is a special occasion to meet and catch up with her cousins. She says it is something only enjoyed by ‘Puran Dhakaiyas’ (residents of Old Dhaka).
This century-old festival has been growing in popularity among people, mainly because of kite flying. Mohammadpur resident Ratul, a university student, speaks excitedly about the new experience. “I have never seen so many kites together in my life,” he says.
The hospitality and merry nature of the Old Dhaka locals left a lasting impression on him. “I will be back next year,” Ratul says, hoping to have a similar jubilant experience.
Scholars say Shakrain’s history can be traced back to almost 250 years. The festival of mainly kite flying took place in what is now Old Dhaka.
Kite flying competition remains a salient feature of the celebrations. Loud music and rooftop DJ parties add new colour to the old tradition.
The colours of Shakrain shines brighter across different parts of old Dhaka as the night sets in. The light shows, paper lanterns, and fireworks that illuminate sky as rooftops are abuzz with music and fire-breathing stunts – are all means to keep the heart of an Old Dhaka heritage beating.
Dhaka, Jan 14 (UNB) – The government will soon initiate a process to export surplus electricity to neighbouring country Nepal in the winter when Bangladesh sees a drop in domestic consumption.
According to official sources at the Power Ministry, the electricity export to Nepal will take place under the cross-border power trade where a tripartite agreement among the three neighbouring nations -- Bangladesh, India and Nepal --will be required.
The cross-border power trade between Dhaka and New Delhi started few years back whereby Bangladesh is importing over 1,000 MW of electricity from India.
Dhaka is also trying to import electricity from its other neighbours, including Bhutan and Myanmar, to meet the demand during the summer season.
Officials said the Indian government’s recent approval of guidelines is seen as a major development in the Bangladesh’s initiative to achieve its target for power export-import trade with Nepal.
Officials said Bangladesh has initially planned to import power from Nepal through setting up hydropower plants there. But now it sees a major opportunity for exporting electricity to Nepal in the winter as well as before the start of its electricity import from the Himalayan nation.
The demand-curve of electricity in Nepal is just reverse of Bangladesh.
Officials said the demand for power increases in the Himalayan nation in the winter with the drop in the mercury whereas it sees a rise in Bangladesh for cool weather.
Similarly, the demand goes up in the summer in Bangladesh while dips in Nepal.
“Bangladesh mainly wants to take this advantage to export additional electricity to Nepal in the winter season and also import electricity from the Himalayan country in the summer season when they need less power,” said Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, a technical wing of the Power Ministry.
He, however, said it is very hard to achieve the target within the next winter as export or import of electricity to and from Nepal needs huge infrastructure development which a time-consuming matter.
Hossain mentioned that the recent amendment to the Indian guidelines has come as a big boon to Bangladesh’s initiative to import and export power from and to Nepal.
Referring to the India’s amended ‘Guidelines for Import/Export (Cross Border) of Electricity- 2018’ published on December 18 last, Power Ministry officials said it will enable Bangladesh to both import and export electricity to and from the neighbouring countries via India.
As per the guidelines, two separate countries can trade electricity where India will take part through a tripartite agreement or giving approval.
Dhaka signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Kathmandu in August last for cooperation in the power sector where hydropower generation in Nepal under a joint venture and electricity export-import issue got special emphasis.
As a follow-up of the MoU, Bangladesh and Nepal held a joint official level meeting on December 3 in Kathmandu which decided to form two technical committees to conduct feasibility studies within the next three months for power generation in Nepal under the joint venture and creating infrastructure for import and export of power from and to Nepal.
State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid recently said Bangladesh would move for creating necessary infrastructures with a target to start electricity export to Nepal in the next winter.
Mohammad Hossain said the country’s electricity demand dropped to 3,000 MW on the election day on December 30.
“Such fall in the demand is very risky for the system having an install generation capacity of 18,000 MW,” he added.
Bangladesh now generates about 11,000 MW from its installed capacity of 18,000 MW while it has set a target to reach its generation to about 60,000 MW by 2041.
Khulna, Jan 14 (UNB) – At least 107 women and girls were raped in the district in the last 19 months till November 30 last, showing that this society is still far away from ensuring a safe environment for women.
According to reports of the Khulna Metropolitan Police (KMP) and district police submitted at a meeting on law and order held at the KMP headquarters on January 8, the rate of rape was higher in rural areas during the period and most of the victims were aged between 25 to 40.
Six women were raped in May, August, September and December each, while four each in June, October and November and seven in July of 2017, the reports said.
In 2018, five were violated in January, March and August each, seven each in February and July, while six in April, one in May, 10 in June, 11 in September, four in October and three in November.
Many of the perpetrators served 7-10 months’ jail term after their arrest while some others have been on the run to evade arrest.
Charge-sheets are yet to be submitted in 25 percent of the cases, said the reports.
Sources at the local office of the Department of Women Affairs said the rape victims were given treatment at the one-stop crisis centre of Khulna Medical College Hospital while Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association (BNWLA), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Human Rights Implementation Organisation were providing legal aid to them.
The reports, however, said the rate of other crimes saw a decline in the district during the period.
Additional Superintendent of Police Md Anisur Rahman said police recorded cases whenever they received any complaint of rape. “However, some of the complaints are found to be false,” he said.
“Guardians file cases after bringing back their daughters when they leave their houses without their consent. Most of the incidents are love-related ones. All the complaints are investigated,” the police official added.
He also said the law-and-order situation in the district is satisfactory as the trend of crime is showing a downtrend.
Dhaka, Jan 13 (UNB) – Despite Bangladesh’s “serious efforts” to resume the halted repatriation process, the recent deteriorating condition in Rakhine State of Myanmar has brought “much worries” among all concerned, clouding the repatriation prospect, officials indicate.
More Rohingyas, not in a big number, entered Bangladesh territory in recent days amid the further deteriorating scenario in Myanmar, they said.
In recent weeks, the intensification of violence between the “Arakan Army” and the Myanmar Army has led to increased humanitarian consequences for the civilian population and caused displacement of nearly five thousand people in Rakhine and Chin States.
“The situation is fragile there where Rohingyas were supposed to go back. We’ll certainly want to start the repatriation process,” Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam told UNB.
At the same time, he said, it is right to say that it is a matter of worry to see the deteriorating scenario instead of significant improvement in the place of origin of Rohingyas. “So, there’s reason to be worried about.”
Responding to a question, RRRC Kalam said they have heard about few new entry but they are yet to verify it fully to determine the numbers. “It’s under verification process.”
The national taskforce for Rohingya refugee response, chaired by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque, reviewed the overall situation on Rohingya on Thursday and discussed how the international community can genuinely get engaged to resolve the crisis.
“Firstly, we evaluated the repatriation-related situation and got updated on the recent incidents (in Myanmar),” a senior government official who attended the meeting told UNB.
He said they also discussed the proposed 2019 joint response plan for Rohingya humanitarian to determine the funding mechanism and priority areas. The plan will be finalised soon for formal launching.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam has already said the government will continue to take effective steps to address the pending issues, including solution to the Rohingya crisis.
The State Minister said they did not deliberately push the repatriation issue that much before the election as the repatriation could not take place as agreed by the two countries though the two countries were very close to starting the repatriation.
“Our efforts will be expedited in the coming days, I can say that with confidence,” Shahriar said keeping focus on the listed and verified Rohingyas.
Bangladesh and Myanmar had agreed to begin the repetition of the first batch of Rohingyas by mid-November last year but it was halted.
The international community appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s humanitarian support to nearly 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar.
An official wishing to remain unquoted said more Rohingyas are coming to Bangladesh from other countries.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has recently sought clarification from India over the return of Rohingya and regretted the India's decision.
There are an estimated 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in India, living across different locations, it said.
Lee to visit Rohingya camps
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee will visit Bangladesh soon to see Rohingya situation in Cox’s Bazar district amid Myanmar’s continued denial to her access to Rakhine State.
Lee, who earlier said incidents in Rakhine State bear the “hallmarks of genocide” and called for accountability in the strongest terms, will begin her Bangladesh visit on January 19.
She also plans to visit the island of Bhashan Char in Noakhali. The Bangladesh government has planned to shift Rohingyas to the island.
The UN Special Rapporteur will present her findings and recommendations at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2019.
The UN Special Rapporteur will also visit Thailand from January 14 before travelling to Bangladesh on January 19, according to a message received from Geneva on Friday.
The Myanmar government has maintained its decision to cease cooperation with the Special Rapporteur, and refused her entry to Myanmar.
“I still seek to engage with the Myanmar government, and I remain committed to my mandate to monitor the situation of human rights in Myanmar. I’ll continue to meet people from Myanmar and speak out about human rights issues that occur around the country,” said Lee on Friday.
ICRC Head of Delegation in Myanmar Stephan Sakalian said they are concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the latest armed clashes in Rakhine, particularly as it compounds an already precarious situation.
"The ICRC is concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the latest armed clashes in Rakhine, particularly as it compounds an already precarious situation," explains Sakalian, ICRC resident representative for Myanmar.
"Our teams have been active for the past three weeks, assessing and responding to the needs of affected communities. We hope to reach all of those in need."