Dhaka, jan 1 (UNB) – As the government has cancelled the 200 MW Teknaf Solar Park project following SunEdison’s failure to implement it as per the schedule, the executing agency has now moved the international arbitration challenging the government’s decision.
Sources at the Power Division said the US firm had been assigned with the task to implement the 200 MW grid-tied solar park project, country’s first-ever large-scale renewable energy project, which was scheduled to end by July 2018.
“But SunEdison couldn’t make any substantial progress in its implementation. That’s why the government issued it a ‘notice of intent’ to terminate the agreement in April last,” Mohammad Alauddin, a joint secretary at the Power Division, told UNB.
In reply, the US company sent a ‘notice of dispute’ as well as a legal notice in July to settle the issue as per 19 (b) of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) through the arbitration process, said officials of state-owned Power Development Board (PDB).
The PDB also responded to the notices and now the issue remains pending with the international arbitration, they said.
The PDB was supposed to purchase electricity at 17 US cents (equivalent to Tk 13.26) per unit or kilowatt-hour from the solar park.
The government had estimated that it would buy approximately 6482.4 million units of electricity from the company over a 20-year period at an estimated cost of Tk 8,595.66 crore.
The US firm had obtained the project on an unsolicited basis with much higher tariff compared to other similar projects, but it couldn't prove its efficiency, a top Power Division official told UNB, requesting anonymity.
SunEdison had been struggling with the project since it received the Cabinet Purchase Committee's approval on October 1, 2015.
Officials said the company became bankrupt in the USA in 2016 which plunged it into big financial crisis and even it failed to purchase required land in Teknaf of Cox's Bazar for the project. Some local firms came in the rescue of the US firm arranging 700 acres of land for the project, they noted.
As per the deal, the US firm was supposed to set up the park as an independent power producer (IPP) investing about $300 million.
Officials said private solar plants have been part of the government's plan to generate 24,000MW of electricity by 2021, of which a certain portion will come from renewable energy.
The said special emphasis was laid on power production from non-conventional sources like solar photovoltaic and wind.
The government has aimed to increase the total solar power production to 2,000MW by 2020.
But the total solar power production in Bangladesh has not crossed 300 MW yet.
Dhaka, Jan 1 (UNB) – The party had a plan to stage a comeback by forging an alliance with some progressive parties in 2018, but it apparently turned into another bad and shocking year for BNP as it suffered a worse defeat than anticipated in Sunday’s national election.
Political analysts think frustration and despair may grip the BNP rank and file due to its worst ever results in the national election and the party’s failure to break the cycle of bad luck for nearly 12 years since it lost power in 2006.
BNP senior leaders throughout the year 2018 tried to rejuvenate the party men by telling them that they are returning to power through the 11th parliamentary polls as majority people were with them because the ruling party lost its popularity.
The party, however, only got five seats while its alliance partner Gano Forum two in the election, plunging the party leaders and activists into deep frustration.
Political analysts think the year 2019 will be very tough and challenging for BNP as its survival in politics will be harder than ever. The party, they said, need to come up with the right strategy and actions to revitalise its grassroots and strengthen its organisational strength.
The party had started the year with a failure to hold a rally in the capital’s Suhrawardy Udyan on January 5 to observe the day as ‘Democracy Killing Day’ and the same way it finished it by facing a serious debacle in the election.
The party senior leaders, including its chairperson Khaleda Zia, remained busy throughout January this year dealing with the cases filed against them.
BNP suffered a serious blow when Khaleda was sent to jail on February 8 in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case by a lower court.
After the jailing of their chairperson, BNP waged a peaceful movement and passed their days with different action programmes for over two months which apparently did not yield any positive results.
Later, the party joined different city polls, but suffered defeat in all the cities, except in Sylhet which is a notable success of the party in the election throughout the year.
After the poor show in the city polls, BNP took a step to unite some opposition parties and became successful as it formed Jatiya Oikyafront on October 13 with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Gano Forum, ASM Abur Rob-led JSD and Mahmudur Rahman Manna-led Nagorik Oikya.
Badruddoza Chowdhury-led Bikolpa Dhara was supposed to join the alliance, but it finally remained out of it as BNP did not leave its partner Jamaat-e-Islami.
However, Kader Siddiqui-led Krishak Sramik Janata League joined Oikyafront later.
Before the election, BNP leaders sat in talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina twice, and finally joined the election under Awami League-led government.
However, BNP chief Khaleda Zia could not participate in the polls as she was convicted in two graft cases.
Evaluating BNP’s performance in 2018, BNP vice chairman Abdul Awal Mintoo said keeping party united amid the absence of their chairperson is their main success. “Forging unity with major opposition parties is our also a success.” We’ve also some failures and we couldn’t win the national polls, but we’re not finished, we’ll turn around soon.”
Dhaka University ex-Vice Chancellor Prof Emajuddin Ahmed said BNP did very good and positive politics in 2018 with few mistakes.
“They faced a setback early 2018 when Khaleda Zia was sent to jail, but they tackled the situation effectively. Despite immense repressive acts and the absence of party chairperson and acting chairman, the party rank and file was united and they took part in the elections to various local bodies though they had both successes and failures in those polls,” he said.
Emajuddin also said BNP could not properly be prepared for the general election and revitalise party grassroots as it had to carry out peaceful movement for their chairperson’s release, spend huge time on forging unity with some parties and dealing with so many cases filed against its leaders and activists in 2018.
He said BNP did not lose to Awami League in the national election rather to the administration and law enforcers.
Emajuddin, a former teacher of Dhaka University’s political science department, said BNP now should focus on its own organisation and consolidate the unity of the party from the centre to the grassroots. “They must reorganise themselves and increase their organisational activities to invigorate its disappointed leaders and activists at all levels.”
Dr Sukomal Barua, a professor of Dhaka University Pali and Buddhist Studies department and adviser to the BNP chairperson, said BNP should now clearly analyse the election and pinpoint its mistakes and work out proper strategies and plans to warm up its demoralised supporters and strengthen the party’s orgsnisation.
Dr Sukomal suggested BNP to overhaul the party and its associate bodies evaluating its dedicated leaders and alongside keeping the unity of its partners of Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party.
Dhaka, Dec 31 (UNB) – All the nine members of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family who contested Sunday’s election came out successful.
Eight of them participated in the election as Awami League candidates while Mujibur Rahman Chowdhury alias Nixon Chowdhury vied from Faridpur-4 as an independent contestant.
The eight members are Sheikh Hasina, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, Sheikh Helal Uddin, Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury Liton, Abul Hasnat Abdullah, Sheikh Sarhan Naser Tonmoy and Sheikh Salahuddin Jewel.
Awami League President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina contested the election from Gopalganj-3 constituency and she bagged 229,539 votes to defeat her nearest rival SM Zilani of BNP who polled 123.
Hasina led her party to the third consecutive win in the parliamentary elections, securing two-third majority.
She is set to become the Prime Minister for the third straight time -- an rare feat in the country's history.
Two new members of the Bangabandhu family -– Tonmoy and Jewel -- had got tickets from Awami League to contest the parliamentary elections alongside seven others who are members of the 10th parliament.
They made their maiden election memorable coming out successful in their respective seats.
Tonmoy, the only son of Bangabandhu’s nephew Sheikh Helal Uddin, contested the election from Bagerhat-2 constituency. He had attracted the attention of all as a handsome, lovely and a good orator since his nomination.
He earned a landslide victory getting 221,212 votes against his nearest rival MA Salam of BNP who polled 4,597.
Jewel, another new member and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s cousin, took part in the election from Khulna-2 where electronic voting machines (EVMs) were used for voting.
The AL candidate bagged 112,100 votes while his rival Nazrul Islam Manju, the candidate blessed by BNP, got 27,379 votes.
Awami League Presidium member Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim was elected from Gopalganj-2 parliamentary seat. He secured 281,909 votes while his nearest rival Taslim Shikdar from Islami Andolon Bangladesh who got 608 votes and BNP aspirant Sirajul Islam received 286.
Helal, son of Bangabandhu’s only brother Sheikh Abu Naser, fought in the 11th election from Bagerhat-1. He polled 252,646 to defeat BNP’s Md Sheikh Masud Rana who bagged 11,485 votes.
Bangabandhu’s nephew Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni’s son Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, an MP from Dhaka-10 constituency, also won the election race. He secured 168,172 votes while BNP's Abdul Mannan got 43,831 votes.
A nephew of the Prime Minister, Noor-E-Alam Chowdhury Liton from Madaripur-1 and Abul Hasnat Abdullah from Barishal-1, another cousin of Hasina, also came out successful.
Abul Hasnat Abdullah won the election bagging 205,502 votes while Liton won it with 227,454 votes.
Nixon Chowdhury, grandson of Bangabandhu’s sister Fatema Begum and brother of Liton, defeated AL candidate Kazi Zafarullah this time too after the 2014 election.
The independent candidate bagged 144,179 votes while the AL candidate got 94,234votes.
Nixon’s father was an MP from Shibchar in Madaripur.
Dhaka, Dec 29 (UNB) – The nation goes to the 11th national election on Sunday to elect the next government with the Awami League-led ruling alliance seeking third straight term in office while the BNP-led coalition hoping for a comeback after 12 years.
Amid tight security with the deployment of over 7 lakh security members across the country, the voting in the election will be held from 8am to 4pm without any break.
All the election materials, including translucent ballot boxes and ballot papers, have already reached polling stations across the country.
The country’s people are going to witness a battle of ballot mainly between two major political camps –- AL-led Grand Alliance and Dr Kamal Hossian-led Jatiya Oikyafront –- in the election to be held with the participation of 39 registered political parties.
If Awami League wins the election, Sheikh Hasina will be at the helm of power for record fourth time.
BNP, which boycotted the January-5, 2014 polls, has been there in the election race without its chief Khaleda Zia for the first time since she took the helm of the party in the mid-1980s. Khaleda has been in jail since February 8 last as she was convicted in a graft case. Later, she was convicted in another case.
BNP nominated her as its candidate for Feni-1, Bogura-6 and Bogura-7 seats, but the EC and the apex court declared her ineligible for the election due to her conviction in graft cases.
People are eagerly waiting to exercise their voting rights to elect their representatives for the next five years as a competitive election is going to be held after 10 years.
Meanwhile, the capital city of Dhaka wore a deserted look a day before balloting as a huge number of its dwellers went back to their village homes to cast their votes.
Election experts think voters are enthusiastic about voting but at the same time, they are worried over due to pre-election violence that killed 15 people.
Prime Minister and AL President Sheikh Hsian said their party’s six leaders and activists were killed and over 100 injured while BNP standing committee member Nazrul Khan said their nine leaders and activists were killed and 2,896 others injured ahead of the election.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) has completed all the necessary preparations to hold the election in a peaceful manner.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda directed law enforcers to create a safe environment for all and foil any bid to resort to anarchy and irregularities during the election.
He also asked them to provide full security to the agents of candidates in performing the election duty.
The CEC warned that if anything (violence and irregularity) takes place in any place due to negligence and inaction of the members of law enforcement agencies, action will be taken against all of them following investigations.
Army chief General Aziz Ahmed said the election environment in the country ahead of Sunday’s national election is very “calm and peaceful” encouraging voters to cast their votes without any fear.
“To voters, I would say, go and cast your votes without any fear. We’ll try our best so that no one can create anarchy. That will be our aim,” General Aziz said while talking to reporters in the city. He also said the Army personnel along with other law enforcers will be nearby in a coordinated way.
Sheikh Hasina urged all, including her party candidates and followers, not to believe if BNP and Jatiya Oikyafront (JOF) announce their withdrawal from the election halfway through.
While coming out of the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) at Dhaka Cantonment after visiting critically injured Dr Mahbubur Rahman, she also urged the voters to cast their votes and the candidates to collect the result-sheets having the signatures of presiding and returning officers.
Jatiya Oikyafront chief Dr Kamal Hossain urged the EC and election officials, including returning officers and assistant returning officers, to ensure the congenial environment so that people can exercise their franchise in the election.
Addressing a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU), he called upon people to go to polling centres across the country in the morning to cast their votes.
Number of Voters & Centres
A total of 103,826,819 voters –- 52,371,616 males and 51,455,203 females -- will be allowed to exercise their franchise in 299 constituencies out of 300 across the country.
However, the total of number of the country's voters is 104,238,677 voters --52,572,365 men and 51,666,312-- under the 207,312 booths of 40,183 polling stations in all the 300 constituencies.
The EC has postponed the election to Gaibandha-3 parliamentary seat following the death of the Jatiya Oikyafront candidate. The Gaibandha-3 polls will be held on January 27.
The EC has already finalised 40,051 polling stations with a total of 205,691 booths for the 299 constituencies. As per the police reports sent to the EC, 64 percent polling stations are important (vulnerable) across the country.
Number of Candidates & Parties
In the 299 constituencies, a total of 1,861 candidates are running in the election.
Of the contenders, 1,733 are nominated by political parties and 128 independent ones.
As many as 272 candidates are running the election with AL's electoral symbol 'Boat' while 282 with BNP electoral symbol 'Sheaf of Paddy'.
Bangladesh Awami League fielded its own party candidates in 260 seats while shared 12 others with the partners of 14-party alliance. However, all the 14-party candidates are in the race with Awami League’s election symbol ‘Boat’.
Of them, five from Workers Party, three each from Bikolpa Dhara Bangladesh and JSD and one from Tarikat Federation are in the election race.
Besides, Jatiya Party’s 175 candidates, including 26 under the AL-lead Grand Alliance -- are contesting the election with ‘Plough’ symbol while Anwar Hossain Monju is also in the election race under the Grand Alliance with his party JP’s election symbol ‘Bicycle’.
Out of 299 seats, BNP and its alliance partners from Jatiya Oikyafront and the 20-party are running in 281 seats in the election with ‘Sheaf of Paddy’.
Besides, BNP’s alliance partner LDP chairman Col (retd) Oli Ahmed has been in the election race from (Chattogram-14) with his own party symbol 'Umbrella ‘while Jamaat leader Hamidur Rahman Azad from (Cox’s Bazar-2) as an independent candidate.
BNP fielded its own candidates in 273 seats while shared 25 with its partners from the two alliances. However, its 16 candidates were declared disqualified by the court. The party extended its support to different independent and opposition candidates in the vacant seats.
Of the 25 BNP alliance candidates, seven are from Gano Forum, four each from LDP and JSD (Rob), three each from KSJL and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, two from Khelafat Majlish and one each from BJP and Kalyan Party.
Islami Andolan Bangladesh fielded highest 298 candidates from a single party who are in the election fight with their symbol ‘Hand Fan’.
Security Measures for Polls
On the voting day, a total of 608,000 security men will remain deployed to guard all the polling stations across the country. Of them, some 121,000 are police members, 446,000 Ansar men and 41,000 are village police members, according to the EC’s factsheet.
A security team comprising of 14-17 members will guard each polling station.
In metropolitan areas, a 17-member security group having at least four police members with arms will ensure security to each important (risky) polling station, while a 16-member group having at least three police members with arms to protect each normal station.
Outside metropolitan areas, a 16-member security team having at least two police members with arms will guard each important polling station, while a 15-member security group having at least one police member with arms to protect each normal polling station.
Besides, 12,420 Army personnel (414 platoons) now remain deployed on election duty in 389 upazilas, while 1,440 Navy personnel (48 platoons) in 18 upazilas, 1,260 Coast Guard members (42 platoons) in 12 upazilas, 29,490 BGB members (983 platoons) across the country and 18,000 Rab members (600 platoons) throughout the country.
Some 65,000 other security men, including Rab members, are engaged as striking force across the country to maintain law and order outside polling stations.
Police patrol teams in districts and metropolitan areas are engaged to maintain the election atmosphere across the country.
Apart from the security men, 1,328 executive magistrates and 640 judicial magistrates are in the election duty to punish violation of election code across the country.
EVMs in Six Centres
Out of the 299 seats, electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be used in six –-Dhaka-6 and 13, Chattogram-9, Rangpur-3, Khulna-2 and Satkhira-2.
A total of 2,124,554 voters will be able to cast votes through 5,045 EVMs under 845 polling stations in the six constituencies.
Over 26,000 election observers, including 163 from foreign organisations and missions, will monitor the election.
Among 163 observers from foreign organisations and missions, 38 foreign nationals from different organisations, including FAMBoSA, AAEA, OIC and Commonwealth, 64 foreign nationals from diplomatic or foreign missions and 61 Bangladeshi nationals from foreign organisations, missions and High Commissions stationed in Bangladesh.
Over 6 lakh officials will be there in the 40,051 polling stations across the country. Of them, 40,051 are presiding officers, 205,691 assistant presiding officers and 411,382 polling officers.
There are 122 electoral inquiry committees across the country to investigate election irregularities.
The CEC announced the election schedule on November 8 fixing December 23 as the voting day and but later it was rescheduled following opposition parties’ demand.
Candidates started their election campaign on December 10 after the allocation of symbols which ended on 8am on Friday.
Most of the participating parties presented their election manifestos with lofty of promises.
On December 18, AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina unveiled the party’s 21-point manifesto promising to ensure urban facilities in every village and use the potentials of youths for the progress of the country with the slogan - ‘Bangladesh on the march towards prosperity’.
BNP also presented its 19–point election manifesto the same day with a set of promises, including making democracy an everyday practice, building a vengeance-free Bangladesh and raising GDP growth to 11 percent.
On December 17, Jatiya Oikyafront rolled out its 35-point election manifesto with various promises, including ensuring the balance between the power of the President and the Prime Minister, and introducing upper house in Parliament, to restore people’s ownership of the country if it is voted to power through the upcoming election.
On December 14, Jatiya Party presented its election manifesto with an 18-point pledge, including formation of provincial government, to ensure good governance and consolidating democracy.
Dhaka, Dec 29 (UNB) – Prime Minister’s Political Adviser HT Imam on Saturday said Awami League will accept any outcome of Sunday’s election.
“We’re optimistic about winning but if something else happens (if AL loses), we’ll accept it,” he told UNB in an interview a day before the parliamentary polls. “We believe in democracy.”
Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, is seeking a third consecutive term in office. “The prime minister has been talking about free, fair and participatory election. She has said ‘we’ll return to power if people vote for us, if they don’t, then we won’t,” Imam said.
AL’s main rival, BNP, has joined forces with Dr Kamal Hossain-led Jatiya Oikyafront. But the party’s chief Khaleda Zia is currently in jail. Although BNP and its allies boycotted the 2014 election, it has said it will participate in Sunday’s election.
HT Imam thanked the Election Commission (EC) for ensuring the participation of all political parties.
AL leaders say they are confident about victory but also worried about, what they say, “violence unleashed by the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami.” BNP has been complaining about attacks on its campaigns and arrest of its leaders and activities across the country.
Oikyafront and BNP candidates were largely absent on the streets before the polls. When asked about the sloppy campaign of Oikyafront, Imam said, “I think it’s their strategy.”
“They haven’t put up posters in Dhaka city. Instead, they’re complaining that they’ve been held back. They’re saying they can’t find polling agents. Actually, they aren’t enlisting polling agents so that they can complain. We knew they’ll apply these strategies to take advantage,” he said.
Imam said the government has planned to make the EC stronger.
“Dispelling the lack of people’s faith in the election system will depend on how this election is held by the EC,” he said.
Imam said people will have to remain alert if the BNP-Jamaat alliance’s movement turned undemocratic as it did in 2014.
Overall, Imam said, he was feeling quite upbeat.
“Seeing the election campaigns and participation of all the parties [in the election], I’m optimistic about the future of democracy in Bangladesh,” he added.