Dhaka, July 12 (UNB)–Even as mobile phone users continue to complain about regular call drops and poor internet services, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission(BTRC)is yet to take anyinitiative to address the growing menaces.
Some users say they face call dropproblem five to six times a day and that they often have to wait for a long time to get through. Users are also complaining about getting 2G or 3G in places where they are supposed to get 4G internet services.
Shamsunnahar, a resident of Bashundhara residential area, uses both Grameenphone and Robi SIMs. She said poor mobile network has made speaking on phone an irritating experience.
“The calls are dropped several times even when the network is available,” she said.
Another resident of the area, Sarwar Alam, who also uses Robi and GP SIMs, said his experience was similar to that of Shamsunnahar.
Rahman, a resident of Malibagh who uses Grameenphone, said he faced call dropissue five to six times a day.
Between November 6 and 8 of last year, the BTRC conducted a Quality of Service (QoS) test in 15 areas of the capital. It made 3,300 machine generated calls with a duration of 90 seconds. Similar tests were conducted in other cities.
Test reports showed GP, the country’s largest mobile operator, recorded a call drop rate of 3.38 percent. Second largest operator Robi’s call drop rate was 1.35 percent while Banglalink’s rate was 0.58 percent and state-owned Teletalk’s rate was 1.58 percent.
But the BTRC and International Telecommunication Union set 3 percent as the limit.
Grameenphone took an average of 10.14 seconds for connecting to the dialed number. The time was 6.15 seconds for Robi, 7.69 seconds for Banglalink and 7.11 seconds for Teletalk. In this case, the BTRC set 7 seconds as the benchmark for connecting with the dialed number.
4G internet speed was also tested.
The authority set 7 Mbps as the lowest speed for 4G carriers. But speed provided by the top three operators was below the lowest limit set by the BTRC.
The average downlink speed of GP was 5.88 Mbps while 5.91 Mbps was recorded for Robi and 5.18 Mbps for Banglalink. Teletalk was not operating as a 4G carrier during the test.
“We’ve received lots of complaints about dropped calls. Even ministers are facing the problem,” Posts and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar said when asked about the situation.
He said theBTRC has been directed to take action against those concerned.
Jabbar said the mobile network operators in the country do not have enough spectrums to handle huge subscribers.
“The number of dropped calls is high among GP users as it (the company) handles comparatively more subscribers. But there’s no scope to compromise the quality of service,” he added.
Asked about GP’s call drop issues, BTRC Chairman Jahurul Haque noted that all the operators hadsome problems. “We take action to solve issues whenever subscribers lodge complaints,” he said. We won’t compromise in case of quality.”
Haque said a notice seeking explanation about dropped calls was issued to the operators concerned, adding that the situation has improved a little recently.
“The Quality of Service Regulation has already been issued to verify the quality of operators. Besides, test drives are being conducted in various places including Dhaka. The quality of service varies from operator to operator. We’re working to improve the quality of all operators in the country,” the BTRC chief said.
Asked about the steps taken, Haque said various problems impeding quality service are being solved through discussion with the authorities concerned.
He provided detailed information of the complaints lodged by the subscribers. In March, the BTRC received 334 complaints against GP, 448 against Robi, 149 against Banglalink, 166 against Airtel and 101 against Teletalk.
Brig Gen (retd) SM Farhad, secretary general of the Association of Mobile Telecom Operators of Bangladesh, said the operators always try to reduce the number of dropped calls.
He noted that natural hazards such as storm, downpour and power-cut can cause problems at mobile towers.
Asked why the operators do not purchase spectrum, he said they are expensive compared to other countries. “Operators are interested in purchasing spectrum. But they don’t proceed due to the high price. They’ll buy if the price is reduced.”
According to the BTRC, there were 160.59 million mobile phone subscribers in the country until April this year. GP has 74.473 million subscribers, Robi 47.574 million, Banglalink 34.547 million and Teletalk 3.995 million.
Besides, there are 93.702 million internet subscribers in the country. Of them, 87.910 million use Mobile Internet while 0.060 million use WiMax and 5.732 million use ISP+PSTN.
Khulna, July 11 (UNB) - Amid a 65-day-ban on netting fish in the Bay of Bengal, the authorities imposed a fresh ban on all kinds of fishing in rivers and canals that flow through the Sundarbans.
In a prohibitive order, the Forest Department banned fishing in 13 rivers and 450 canals inside the Sundarbans for two months starting from July 1. The step has been taken to ensure safe breeding and conservation of aquatic animals and prevent poisoning in the river.
Fishermen of the area are already facing another ban imposed on fishing in the Bay of Bengal. That ban, which started on May 20, will continue till July 23.
In such circumstances, those who earn their livelihoods by fishing got frustrated as they will have to sit idle during the entire period. The authorities did not bother to provide any alternatives for them to earn their way. Hundreds of fishermen are now jobless and without an income.
Obviously this affects repayment of their debts with local money lenders. Although they are jobless, they have to repay their loans with the same rate of interest.
Ishaq Gazi, a fisherman of Khulna’s Koyra Upazila, said after Cyclones Sidr and Aila, most of the residents in Koyra area are dependent on the Sundarbans to manage bread and butter. He also earns his livelihood by fishing here.
‘’But the authorities imposed ban on fishing for next two months. As a result, I along with family members have to go through severe financial hardship during the period,’’ Ishaq said.
Another fisherman of Shyamnagar, Raees Molla, demanded financial assistance from the government as they have to sit idle during the period. Eight members of his family are fully dependent on fishing in the Sundarbans for earning livelihood..
“We are looking for another way of income,” he added.
According to Forest Department, 13 large rivers, including Bhola, Baleswar, Shal, Pashur, and 450 canals stream through the largest mangrove forest. In these rivers and canals, there are 210 species of white fish, 24 species of shrimp, 14 species of crab, 43 species of molluscs and lobster. In addition to these, there are 6 species of dolphin, including nearly extinct Irawaddy Dolphin.
July-August is the breeding season for these fish. In order to ensure safe breeding, netting fish has been prohibited here.
Chandpai Range officer (ACF) of Eastern Sundurbans Md Shahin Kabir said fishermen of the area have already been informed about the ban order.
But the Forest Department will allow limited fishing in big rivers, he added.
Apart from the surveillance of forest department, members of the management committee of the forest, CPG, VTRT and Wild Team have been employed to enforce the prohibitory order.
Md Mahmudul Hasan, Departmental Forest Officer (DFO) of Eastern Sundarbans in Bagerhat, said fishermen get permission for fishing after paying a certain amount of revenue.
But some fishermen enter illegally and net fish indiscriminately.
In the breeding season, a huge amount of fish gather in the rivers and canals of the Sundarbans. Taking the opportunity, some dishonest fishermen spray poison in canals of the area with a lure to get extra profit.
Consequently, all species living in water die being affected by the poison. This practice causes adverse effects on the biodiversity of the area.
To avoid this, the authorities have taken the step to ban fishing.
Dhaka, Jul 8 (UNB) - The government has directed the specialised banks and financial institutions to work out their plans to recover money from all loan defaulters.
The Financial Institution Division of the Finance Ministry has recently given this directive to the banks while holding a meeting with the top executives of the specialised banks.
According to sources at the Financial Institution Division, the top executives of Bangladesh Krishi Bank, Karmasangsthan Bank (Employment Bank), Ansar VDP Bank, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation, Prabashi Kalyan Bank, Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) and Palli Sanchay Bank were present at the meeting.
The meeting asked the specialised banks and financial institutions to increase their rate of recovery from the written-off loans and take effective steps for disposing of audit objections.
The amount of written-off loans in the eight specialised banks is Tk 621 crore, with Bangladesh Krishi Bank being at the top with Tk 221 crore.
The amount of ICB’s written-off loan is Tk 263 crore followed by Tk 222 crore of Bangladesh Krishi Bank and Tk 127 crore of Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank.
Besides, the amount of money involving audit objections in these eight banks is Tk 10,924 crore.
The meeting also placed an outline for the specialised banks and financial institutions for realising money from their classified and non-classified loans.
It said the Bangladesh Krishi Bank realised Tk 1489 crore less from its target while realising money from default and normal loans. The amount is Tk 457 crore less at Palli Sanchay Bank while Tk 125 crore at Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank, Tk 99 crore at Ansar VDP Bank, Tk 220 crore at Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation and Tk 761 crore for the ICB.
The meeting was informed that the number of internal and commercial audit objections of the Bangladesh Krishi Bank is 6,668 which involves Tk 6,854 crore.
The amount of money at Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank is Tk 1,763 crore against 4,022 audit objections.
The amount of money against audit objections of ICB is Tk 1,680 crore while that of Bangladesh House Building Finance Corporation Tk 315 crore, Prabashi Kalyan Bank Tk 188 crore, Ansar VDP Bank Tk 83 crore and Karmasangsthan Bank Tk 40 crore, according to the sources.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal recently placed in Parliament a list of 300 top loan defaulters of the country involving Tk 50,942 crore.
He said these loan defaulters took loans from all banks and financial institutions of the public and private sectors.
Mustafa Kamal mentioned that the outstanding amount of these loan defaulters is Tk 70,571 crore while the classified amount is Tk 52,837 crore.
The top 10 defaulters on the list are Samannaz Super Oil Ltd (Tk 1,049 crore), Galaxy Sweater and Yarn Dyeing Ltd (Tk 984 crore), Rimex Footwear Ltd (Tk 976 crore), Quantum Power Systems Ltd (Tk 828 crore), Maheen Enterprise Ltd (Tk 825 crore), Rupali Composite Leather Wear Ltd (Tk 798 crore), Crescent Leather Products Ltd (Tk 776 crore), SA Oil Refinery Ltd (Tk 707 crore), Suprov Composite Knit Ltd (Tk 610 crore) and Grameen Shakti (Tk 601 crore).
Mustafa Kamal also disclosed a list of borrowers who took more than Tk 5 crore from all banks, having outstanding amount of 5 crore and bellow.
The list shows that some 14,617 individuals and institutions took loans of Tk 1,741,348 crore since 2009 while Tk 100,183 crore got defaulted.
The Finance Minister said the number of loan defaulters in September 2015 was 111,954 involving Tk 59,105 crore while it increased to 170,390 with Tk 102,315.19 crore in December 2018.
Kamal also said state-owned commercial and specialised banks waived the interest to the tune of Tk 1198.24 crore last year against 6163 loans.
Agrani Bank Ltd waived the highest amount of Tk 494 crore against 2008 loans while Bangladesh Krishi Bank Tk 435 crore against 66 loans, Rupali Bank Ltd Tk 134 crore against 203 loans, Sonali Bank Ltd Tk 73 crore against 14 loans, Janata Bank Ltd Tk 54 crore against 2473 loans, Rajshahi Krishi Unnayan Bank Tk 4.35 crore against 1380 loans and BASIC Bank Ltd waived Tk 1.69 crore against 19 loans.
Bangladesh Development Bank did not waive any interest during the period.
Jashore, July 8 (UNB) – Educated youth Shimul Hossain has attained much success by cultivating malta, a small and highly-coloured variant of the common orange that is thought to have originated in Italy, for commercial purposes.
Shimul was interested to grow high yielding varieties of various fruits including guava and mango. The only son of late Matiur Rahman of village Bakshipur of the upazila, he had gone to Dubai in 2008 after completing education in 2007.
After coming back in 2016, he started cultivating malta on his small piece of land after collecting sapling from Mymensingh Agricultural University and Pirojpur.
Agriculture Office sources said, coloured malta of BARI-1 ‘Kashmiri Poisha’ variety was grown on about 10 hectares of land at Bakshipur, Patibila, Badekhanpur, Hakimpur, Shishutola, Shahjadpur, Narayanpur, Guatoli, Debipur, Hijli and village Ichhapur of municipal area.
Currently Shimul is growing malta on 4 bighas of land. After meeting the local demand for tasty malta everyday it is being sent to various districts including Khulna, Chattagram, Barishal, Rajbari and capital Dhaka.
Shimul said, “After getting information from owner of ideal nursery of Chawgachha Bazar Habibur Rahman, I have collected saplings from Pirojpur and Mymensingh Agricultural University. The malta tree bears fruit within one and a half year after sowing of its seed. Huge quantity of malta was cultivated this year due to favourable weather. At present, there are about two maunds (1 maund = 40 kg) on each tree of the four-bigha land. The tasty fruit malta can be sold at Tk 100-120 per KG.”
“I sold 50-60 maunds of malta during the current season market price of which earned me about Tk 2 lac,” he added.
There are three labourers working on monthly basis. Besides, 4-5 labourers are working everyday. Being encouraged, many in the upazila are coming forward to cultivate malta.
It was known that excessive use of pesticide is not needed as the fruit is being cultivated through modern methods. One hundred saplings can be sown on one bigha land. Fruits worth Tk 1-1.5 lac can be grown by spending Tk 50-60,000.
Farmer Habibur Rahman informed that the cuttings (a piece of branch or root) of malta tree has to be sown during the Bengali month of Ashar (starts June 17 in Gregorian calendar). The fruit starts ripening after 18 months. It can give fruit for 10/15 years if proper care is taken. Besides, cuttings worth around Tk 5-6000 can be sold from a tree in a year.”
Regarding its health benefits, Resident Medical Officer of Chawgachha Model Hospital Dr Nahid Siraj said, “malta reduces the risks of diabetes and heart disease as there are very few calories in it. Besides, it contains huge quantity of vitamin C and iron which helps check various diseases including reducing fat and blood cholesterol in the body.”
In this regard Chawgachha Upazila Agriculture Officer Roich Uddin said, “Malta is a very tasty fruit and its cultivation has great potential in the agricultural sector. The soil of Chawgachha area is very suitable for malta cultivation and so the farmers are being encouraged for its commercial cultivation.”
Dhaka, July 7 (UNB) – Shipra Rani Dey, a non-government primary school teacher, came to the capital three weeks ago from Noakhali’s Char Hatiya with her two-year-old son to take part in teachers’ demonstration demanding regulatisation of their jobs.
She has been working at a private primary school for the last 13 years and barely received any salary.
“I’m continuing the job without salary in the hope that it’ll be regularised someday. It’s very challenging for me as I’ve to run a six-member family. My husband is bed-ridden and I’m the only breadwinner,” she said.
But maintaining the family has become extremely difficult for her as she is caught in a debt trap and without a regular income, and the situation is likely to worsen further. “My own ordeal is forcing me to take part in the demonstration,” she said, as her toddler fidgeted.
An organisation of private primary school teachers has been spearheading the demonstration in front of the Jatiya Press Club for the last three weeks demanding that their schools be nationalised.
Female teachers like Shipra, who are participating in the demonstration, are suffering even more. “The lack of bathrooms is adding to our sufferings,” she said but vowed to continue the protest.
Mahbuba Begum, a protester from Patuakhali, echoed Shipra’s determination. “We’re continuing the demonstration braving the sun, rain, dust, mosquito, and constant noise. We can’t even eat or sleep properly. Many teachers have fallen sick,” she said.
“Our families are suffering. But we’ve no option other than continuing the protest until we’re heard. We want to go back to schools,” she said.
ASM Jafar Iqbal, organising secretary of the demonstrating teachers’ association, told UNB that they started staging sit-in on June 16 and went on a hunger strike on June 30. “We’ll continue our fast-unto-death programme until the government accedes to our demands,” he said.
Iqbal claimed that 4,159 private schools were left out when the government nationalised 26,193 schools, insisting that their institutions met the criteria for being included in the list. “It’s because we failed to provide information as we didn’t get them from the district and upazila officers,” he said.
Jafar said that they met State Minister for Primary and Mass Education Md Zakir Hossain on June 24 and got assurance about fulfillment of their demands. “We want the government to clarify its stance,” he said.
Md Mamunur Rashid Khokon, president of the association, said the government nationalised 26,193 primary schools among those established before May 9, 2012.
“We’re trying to meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to have this issue solved. Our 18-day demonstration in 2018 didn’t yield any result. Now, we’re holding fast unto death from Wednesday,” he said, adding that 173 teachers had fallen sick during the demonstration.
SM Tariqul Islam, Assistant Secretary (Law) of Primary and Mass Education Ministry, told UNB that that he was unaware of the details.
“But apparently there’s no plan to nationalise any new private school right now,” he said.