Dhaka, Sep 25 (UNB) – A joint technical team of Dhaka and New Delhi will now review the feasibility report of the Indian proposed “765 kV East-West Power Interconnector” project instead of its immediate implementation.
The decision was made at the meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Steering Committee on Power Sector Cooperation held in north-eastern city of Sylhet on Tuesday, said officials who attended the two nations’ bilateral talks.
Bangladesh Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus and Indian Power Secretary Shri Ajay Kumar Bhalla led their respective sides in the 15th meeting of the committee.
Such meeting takes place in every six month in alternative venue in the two countries.
Officials said the neighbouring India planned the East-West Interconnector Project to take electricity through Bangladesh to its Bihar province in the west from eastern Province of Arunachal by setting up hydro power projects.
As part of the plan, New Delhi offered Dhaka to install the portion of the long high voltage grid transmission line to be crossed through Bangladesh corridor by its own cost while India will control the whole grid system.
But while discussing the agenda Bangladesh officials disagreed with the Indian plan and offered to implement such project as a regional power grid by participation of all involving nations like Nepal and Bhutan as well, officials said.
They also mentioned that Dhaka offered to keep control the grid system in a joint mechanism instead of any single country authority over the line.
Dhaka also raised serious objection about the New Delhi’s recent arbitrary decision for not allowing any cross border electricity trade through India unless there is any Indian company is involved.
Such decision put Bangladesh’s move into a great dilemma to import electricity from Nepal and Bhutan through Indian border.
Officials said the Indian side took the Bangladesh concerns into cognizance and informed that the Indian central government has softened the decision by bringing some changes.
They informed that the copy of the latest version of Indian government’s decision will be sent to Dhaka soon for understanding of Bangladesh government.
Power Cell director general Mohammad Hossain, who participated in the meeting, however, said discussion was held in a very cordial manner and the outcomes are very positives.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, said fruitful discussion was held in the steering committee meeting on various issues including giving all kinds of tax exemption on import of electricity from India, giving waiver to any financial involvement in power import due to change in Indian law or in political situation and export of electricity from Bangladesh to India.
The meeting also discussed participation of Indian corporate companies in Bangladesh power sector, setting up Dhaka–New Delhi joint venture project in India, import of electricity from Nepal and Bhutan and cooperation in renewable energy sector.
Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) – The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said the Digital Security Act passed by parliament in Bangladesh last week, despite opposition from the country’s journalists, ‘strikes a blow to freedom of speech’.
The law, which replaces the much-criticised Information and Communication Technology Act (ICT), retains the most ‘problematic’ provisions of that law and adds more provisions criminalising ‘peaceful’ speech, says the New York-based global rights body.
“The new Digital Security Act is a tool ripe for abuse and a clear violation of the country’s obligations under international law to protect free speech,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “With at least five provisions criminalising vaguely defined types of speech, the law is a license for wide-ranging suppression of critical voices.”
Several provisions violate international standards on free expression.
The HRW says Section 21 authorises sentences of up to 14 years in prison for spreading “propaganda and campaign against liberation war of Bangladesh or spirit of the liberation war or Father of the Nation.”
The United Nations Human Rights Committee, the independent expert body that monitors compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Bangladesh is a party, has expressly stated laws that penalise the expression of opinions about historical facts are incompatible with a country’s obligations to respect freedom of opinion and expression, it says.
Section 25(a) authorises sentences of up to three years for publishing information that is “aggressive or frightening” – broad terms not defined in the law, according to the HRW.
The use of such vague terms violates the requirement that laws restricting speech be formulated with sufficient precision to make clear what speech would violate the law.
The vagueness, combined with the harsh potential penalty, increases the likelihood of self-censorship.
Section 31 imposes sentences of up to 10 years for posting information that “ruins communal harmony or creates instability or disorder or disturbs or is about to disturb the law and order situation.”
The HRW said the government should not be able to punish criticism on the grounds that it may “disturb the law-and-order situation.”
Section 31 also covers speech that “creates animosity, hatred, or antipathy among the various classes and communities.”
UN human rights experts have stated that restrictions on public debate in the name of racial harmony must not be imposed to the “detriment of human rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.”
The law’s overly broad definition of “hate speech” opens the door for arbitrary and abusive application of the law and creates an unacceptable chill on the discussion of issues relating to race and religion, the rights body says.
Section 29, like the much-abused section 57 of ICT Act, criminalizes online defamation, the HRW says.
It says while section 29, unlike the ICT Act, limits defamation charges to those that meet the requirements of criminal defamation in the penal code, it is nevertheless contrary to a growing recognition that defamation should be considered a civil matter, not a crime punishable with imprisonment.
Section 28 authorises sentences of up to five years in prison for speech that “injures religious values or sentiments.”
The rights body says journalists in Bangladesh also opposed section 32 of the law, which authorises up to 14 years for gathering, sending, or preserving classified information of any government using a computer or other digital device, noting that doing so is a means to expose wrongful actions by officials.
Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) – Visiting World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region Hartwig Schafer on Tuesday said Rohingyas, living in Cox’s Bazar camps, want an identity and dignity saying he has seen a human tragedy over there.
“What I’ve seen over the day is human tragedy,” Schafer who visited Rohingya camps on Monday and Tuesday said in a message from Kutupalong camp, the largest refugee camp in the world.
He said Bangladesh opened border to the Rohingyas who came here with nothing and fled homes across the border.
“They want dignity. They want an identity. They’re enormously resilient. They’ve started small businesses,” said the WB Vice President in a video message.
Schafer said Rohingyas want to send their children school to get good education and they want to make sure they get good healthcare. “I would hope there’s a brighter future for those people.”
The WB Vice President thanked the people of Bangladesh and the government for sheltering Rohingyas.
He said the World Bank has made available over US$ 480 million to support Bangladesh to help them with the cost of serving these people.
Despite its own challenges, Bangladesh has shown great generosity by sheltering nearly one million Rohingya people, said the WB Vice President in an earlier message.
"The World Bank is working closely with the government to help address the needs of the Rohingya until their safe return to Myanmar and help build the country’s capacity to deal with the crisis.”
It has approved the first two operations—totalling about $75 million in grants—to provide health services and education to the Rohingya, many of whom are children, youths or women.
“Bangladesh has a remarkable story of cutting extreme poverty to half in record time. Other countries can learn from Bangladesh’s many development innovations and successes. I look forward to meeting our partners and seeing firsthand the country’s journey to economic growth,” said Schafer.
Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) - Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) wants to be champion in helping Bangladesh achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promote it to be a developed country by 2021.
“We’ll continue to work in Bangladesh with our partners to help it further and help it achieve the SDGs and other development goals,” KOICA Country Director in Bangladesh Cary Hyungue Joe told UNB.
He said Bangladesh and KOICA have an “excellent cooperation” and the cooperation is growing in many areas. Particularly, we place more emphasis on democracy and promoting human rights as well as gender equality in our Bangladesh development programmes.”
Earlier, the KOICA Country Director interacted with a small group of journalists on various activities of the KOICA in Bangladesh.
KOICA Deputy Country Director Go Ahreum, its development specialist Biswajit Kumar Sarkar and principal programme officer Md Khalid Hossain were present.
Biswajit made a presentation highlighting the ongoing and completed projects of KOICA in Bangladesh.
He also highlighted the focus areas of KOICA in Bangladesh, including health, education, public administration, technology, emergency relief and others.
The Korean government will support the Bangladesh government to realise the Vision 2021 and the 7th Five Year Plan, focusing on improving quality of human resources, increasing regional connectivity through expansion of transport infrastructures, reinforcing public health services and reinforcing ICT infrastructures for the acceleration of economic growth, according to Korea’s Country Partnership Strategy for Bangladesh (2016-2020).
Dhaka, Sept 25 (UNB) – The United Kingdom (UK) has announced new protections for vulnerable children at risk of falling prey to child labour, including a £5 million programme to support Bangladesh deliver its commitment of eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the country.
Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom Penny Mordaunt made the announcement on Monday, said the British High Commission in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The UK will commit extra support in the global fight against forced labour, taking UK spend to over £200 million to help create jobs, strengthen law enforcement, improve recruitment practices so people do not become victims and provide vital protections for those who do.
UK aid is working to wipe out forced labour, which costs our economy an estimated £4.3 billion a year, at source and prevent onward trafficking to our shores.
Mordaunt said from the clothes we wear to the food we eat, the insidious virus of forced labour is infiltrating all aspects of our daily life without us even realising. “Not only does it have a huge cost to the global and the UK’s economy, it is a shameful stain on our global conscience that must be eradicated for good.”
“No one nation can banish this borderless crime alone. The international community must collaborate to dismantle predatory trafficking networks, support victims, strengthen justice systems and create sustainable alternative livelihoods,” she said.
The £5 million programme to support the government of Bangladesh to deliver its commitment of eliminating the worst forms of child labour in the country.