BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday alleged that the government itself is carrying out the fire incidents in different markets to mislead people. "You (govt) have failed (to ensure safety to public life and property) as you don’t monitor anything. There are fires everywhere every day. You are behind this fire,” he said. Speaking at a demonstration programme, the BNP leader said the government is trying to divert people’s attention from the people’s demand for lowering the prices of daily essentials, fertiliser, and the demand for credible election and the restoration of voting rights. “That’s why you (govt) are carrying out the fire incidents in different markets.” Jatiyatabadi Krishak Dal arranged the programme in front of the Jatiya Press Club to protest against the ‘unusual’ increase in the price of fertilisers. About the fire in New Super Market, Fakhrul said the government is trying to involve BNP in the fire to shift the blame onto the opposition party. Fakhrul said the affected traders of the New Super Market themselves told the media that some people wearing the uniform of Dhaka South City Corporation were demolishing the foot-over bridge in front of the market around 5:30am. “The traders said they saw for themselves that fire broke out from the electricity line being used by the City Corporation employees during the demolition work of the bridge.” He also the employees of the city corporation fled the scene after being failed to control the fire that spread to the market. “I am not saying this because it is the words of market traders. The person in charge of the City Corporation now belongs to the Awami League. So the Awami League and this government are completely responsible for the incident.” Quoting experts, Fakhrul said the incidents of fire are growing due to environmental hazards and wrong policies. “This government is allowing construction of buildings everywhere and turning any building into markets anywhere.’ He said the ruling party ‘cadres’ set up illegal shops in markets by taking extortion money, making the markets unsuitable for people to move. The BNP leader questioned who permitted to set up hundreds of shops on the second floor of the New Market where there is no fire extinguishing system. “The shops were set up by bribing the Awai League leaders there.” A massive fire broke out at Dhaka’s New Super Market --next to New Market-- around 5:40 am on Saturday and it gutted over 1,000 shops.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid has said that the government has initiated a move to expedite the gas exploration and production activities in the country to increase the primary fuel supply. “All the planning is being undertaken targeting to build a developed Bangladesh by 2041”, he told a seminar on energy security at the Bangladesh Business Summit 2023 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city on Sunday. He said the country has already achieved a target to reach electricity to all the doorsteps. “Now we have one hundred percent access to electricity”, he said adding that the government is now working to ensure an uninterrupted power supply. Abul Kalam Azad, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister, made a keynote presentation on the present state of energy security, future initiatives and the challenges of renewable energy at the seminar. Power secretary Habibur Rahman, president of International Chamber of Commerce Bangladesh Mahbubur Rahman, Summit Group chairman Mahbubur Rahman, GE Gas Power South chief executive officer Asia Deepesh Nanda, and Max Group chairman Golam Mohammad Alamgir also spoke on the occasion while eminent energy expert Prof Ijaz Hosain moderated the event. Nasrul Hamid said that the development activities of Bangladesh should be taken considering the context of Bangladesh. Electrification in remote areas has expanded area-based development. As a result, he said, a balanced development is ensured. He also discussed natural gas, LNG, LPG, future electricity and energy planning, mineral coal, fuel mix, clean energy, energy conservation, and versatile sources of energy at the seminar.
The government has asked the people not to go for panic buying as there would be no crisis in the supply of essential commodities during the month of Ramadan. “We’ve enough food grains and essential commodities in the market. I would like to tell all so that none should go for panic-buying or purchase a large quantity of commodity at a time," PM’s Principal Secretary M. Tofazzel Hossain Miah told reporters after a meeting on Sunday. The meeting was held in the Prime Minister’s Office to review the supply situation of the essential goods prices of commodities, electricity supply and law and order during the Ramadan month, as well as the mass exodus during the Eid-ul Fitr. The Principal Secretary chaired the meeting, while high officials from different ministries and agencies including senior secretaries of the commerce ministry and public security division attended it. "According to available information received from different ministries, this year the stock of food grains is much higher than any time in the past. We’ve enough food grains in stock ahead of Ramadan, which is a matter of satisfaction for us,” said Tofazzel Hossain. He said the authorities concerned were directed to ensure the proper supply chain of essential commodities during Ramadan. He hoped that the price of sugar would decline during Ramadan as the government has already reduced duty and withdrawn tariffs on sugar import. The import of sugar will be much higher ahead of Ramadan due to the measures taken by the government. Besides, the open market sale (OMS) will be continued as usual, while the TCB will sell essential commodities including edible oil, sugar, rice, onion and chickpeas (chhola). The TCB will also sell dates in Dhaka city, he said. Some 10 crore people will be benefited with the sale of essential commodities (at subsidised rates) under the two food programmes ahead of the Ramadan and the Eid-ul Fitr, he said. Tofazzel said the government will take tough action against if anyone tries to hoard commodities and mounts public sufferings during the Ramadan. Electricity supply to be normal: The Principal Secretary said the electricity supply will be normal during Ramadan. The authorities concerned asked to ensure proper electricity supply during Iftar and Sehri as well as for irrigation after 11pm following an appropriate rationing system. About mass exodus during the Eid-ul Fitr, he said the authorities were asked to ensure smooth and safe journey of the home-goers by identifying and solving problems after visiting the local spots.
The government has announced to provide financial assistance to the victims of Sitakunda oxygen plant fire that claimed lives of six people and injured 50 others. State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian made the announcement on Sunday. She also expressed deep shock over the loss of lives in the fire. The government also announced Tk 25,000 for the burial of the deceased while Tk 2 lakh to the family members of each deceased. Besides, Tk 50,000 was announced for the treatment of the injured victims. Read more: Sitakunda oxygen plant fire: Death toll rises to 6 Already the cheques were handed over to the relatives of the deceased and injured victims. Six people were killed and 50 others injured in an explosion at Seema Oxygen Plant around 4:30 pm on Saturday. Among the injured, 30 were admitted to Chittagong Medical College and hospital (CMCH) hospital. A four-member committee was formed to look into the explosion.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Thursday held a meeting with the World Bank regarding the implementation of a sustainable plastic management action plan to prevent plastic pollution in the country. At the same time, discussions were held with Lafarge Holcim regarding the implementation of Geocycle, a modern waste management system. Presided over by Environment, Forest and Climate Change Secretary Dr Farhina Ahmed, the meeting was attended, among others, by Additional Secretary (Climate Change) Md Moniruzzaman, Additional Secretary (Environment) Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, Additional Secretary (Environmental Pollution Control) Md Mizanur Rahman, the World Bank's senior environmental expert Yoon Ju Alison Yee and Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Executive Director Syeda Rizwana Hasan. Read: Anti-plastic laws not being implemented: Speakers At the meeting, on behalf of the World Bank, proposals were presented on policies and financing mechanisms for implementing the Sustainable Plastic Management Action Plan. The meeting also informed that the World Bank is preparing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as part of the implementation of the action plan. Syeda Rizwana Hasan spoke on the draft guidelines of EPR on plastics. Kaushik Mukherjee, head of LafargeHolcim's Geocycle Division, presented the Geocycle waste management approach to control pollution. Kaushik said LafargeHolcim is implementing the method of burning garbage without any residue in a furnace with a temperature of 80°C-2,000°C. The Geocycle process burns 100% of the waste, and because it uses garbage instead of fossil fuels, the process does not produce greenhouse gases, he said. Praising the Geocycle system, Dr Farhina Ahmed said the government will implement it if it is found to be environmentally friendly and feasible after on-site inspections. "The necessary guidelines for the implementation of the Sustainable Plastic Management Action Plan will be formulated in consultation with all concerned", she added.
The Development Organisation of the Rural Poor, a leading local non-governmental organization, urged the government to pass the draft amendment of tobacco control act and ban all types of electronic cigarettes at the earliest to make the country tobacco-free by 2040 on Wednesday. "Tobacco companies are spreading rumours against the amendment of tobacco control act. We request the government to revise the act without any delay," Deputy Executive Director of the organisation Mohammad Zobayer Hasan said at a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital. Read more: Reinforce tobacco laws to save young generation: Speakers Referring to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2017, he said at least 35.3% of people aged over 15 are directly consuming tobacco, while 18% are passive smokers and 20.6% are smoke-free tobacco consumers. "Every day, the country sees 444 deaths on average due to tobacco consumption," Zobayer Hasan added. Member of Parliament from Sirajganj-3 constituency Professor Dr Md Abdul Aziz, Former Dhaka Medical College Orthopaedics Department head Professor Dr Md Shah Alam, Development Organisation of the Rural Poor Executive Advisor Md Azhar Ali Talukder, among others, were present at the event organised to discuss the role of the media in tobacco control.
The government will issue health ID cards for every Bangladeshi, said Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque on Tuesday . The minister said this while speaking at the ‘BSRF Dialogue’ organized by Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum (BSRF) at the Media Center at the Secretariat. He said the DPP (development project proposal) regarding this has been submitted to the Planning Commission. “I also talked to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina regarding this and am waiting for her approval,” he added. Also Read: No unauthorised clinics in Dhaka city, health minister tells JS He said the health cards will contain of all necessary medical records of a patient. He said the newly inaugurated Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Super Specialized Hospital will start full-scale operations on January 23. “During my tenure, hospital beds were increased from 21 to 50 in 30 hospitals and from 50 to 100 in another five. In the last four years, seven medical assistance training centers and five medical colleges have been established. Projects for another five medical colleges are ongoing,” he said. BSRF president Tapan Biswas presided over the dialogue while its secretary Masudul Haq moderated it.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Wednesday alleged that the government has been preparing the scripts of new dramas to divert their pro-democracy movement to a different direction. "We’ve seen many incidents, many ups and downs, and repressive acts, loss of lives, enforced disappearances, murders and false and fictitious cases. We’re seeing now that they (AL) are talking about arson violence. We’ve also seen a new drama of snatching militants from the court premises,” he said. Speaking at a discussion, the BNP leader also said the government has been writing the new drama scripts with an ‘evil’ political motive. “Their main target is to divert the movement that has begun with the core demands of people to a different direction.” Nagorik Oikya arranged the programme at the Jatiya Press Club. Fakhrul said the government has also started indulging in the old game of filing fictitious cases against BNP leaders and activists as part of its move to suppress the opposition. He said a case was filed by police against 150 people of BNP for hurling a crude bomb at Karwanbazar, but no one saw taking place such an incident there. “The witnesses also know nothing about it as there was no sound of an explosion.” Read more: AL, not BNP, mastermind of ‘arson terrorism’: Fakhrul The BNP leader said already 96 such cases have been filed against 4,500 identified and 10,000 unidentified accused belonging to BNP. "It means their old game has started. They’ll carry out the incidents and we’ll face the cases and thus we’ll remain busy going to the court and they’ll get their job done.” New strategies to manipulate polls He said the ruling party invents new strategies when the election time comes to cling to power in one way or another. Fakhrul said a strong movement is the only way to get rid of the current situation. "The only way to remove this regime is forging unity of the people and wage a movement for holding a credible and neutral election. “A new parliament and a new government will be formed through that election and thus a scope will be created to materialise the dreams of the people,” he hoped. The BNP leader said no fair and acceptable election can be held under the Awami League government. “Our political culture has reached a point where elections are not possible under a partisan government. So, the polls must be held under a caretaker government.” He called upon the political parties to get united to ensure the fall of ‘usurper’ the Awami League regime. Corruption institutionalised Fakhrul said the police, civil and all other administrations are busy flattering the ruling party. “The worst thing they have done by completely institutionalising corruption. There is no sector in which they have not committed corruption." He said the MPs distributed the allocated money of the Union Parishads among the ruling party chairmen. “Even, the Awami League leaders and workers get 10-20% share of money from different allowances such as old-age and widow ones. Zila Parishad has been set up and its main job is to plunder public money.” The BNP leader said Awami League has now become a huge burden for the nation. “If we cannot remove this burden from our shoulders, then we will all sink with them. We’re about to sink”. Dhaka rally surely at Nayapaltan Fakhrul alleged that the government still did not give their party permission to hold its final rally in Dhaka on December 10. “As we always hold our programmes in front of our party office, we will definitely hold the rally there on December 10.” Read more: No obstacle can stand in front of BNP now: Fakhrul He called upon the authorities concerned of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) to give permission for the rally without buying time and making any trouble. “Take all steps so that we can smoothly arrange the programme.” The BNP leader said they want to hold the rally peacefully as they are carrying out their movement in a peaceful manner. “It’s now the responsibility of the government to cooperate with us in holding the rally peacefully.”
After submission of a review appeal by state-owned BPDB to raise bulk power tariff, now distribution companies are likely to submit their respective proposals to raise retail power tariff, official sources said. According to a top level source at the Power Division, the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) will submit its proposal to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) to enhance retail power tariff on Sunday next while other distribution entities will submit their respective proposals within the next week. State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid also said that the distribution entities are preparing their proposals to submit to the energy regulator seeking a substantial hike in the electricity tariff at retail level. “Power distribution companies are now working to prepare their proposals…They are calculating the possible impact on any hike in the bulk tariff,” he told UNB. The BPDB sources said the government is expecting that the BERC will announce its decision on the review appeal on bulk tariff on any day in the next week. “We hope, BERC will raise the bulk tariff by at least 20 percent,” said a top official of the BPDB, adding that, considering a possible 20 percent hike, the BPDB is seeking at least 12 percent hike in retail tariff of electricity. He also said all the distribution companies may submit an identical proposal in consultation with the Power Division where they may seek between 12-16 percent hike in the retail tariff. Read more: Decision on bulk power tariff ‘adjustment’ Thursday The retail power tariff was last raised in March, 2020 by BERC after holding a public hearing. Through an announcement, the BERC had raised the power tariff on a weighted average by 5.3 percent at retail and 8.4 percent at wholesale levels with effect from March 1, 2020. As per that decision, the retail power tariff was increased from Tk 6.77 to Tk 7.13 per unit (each kilowatt-hour) and Tk 4.77 to Tk 5.17 at bulk level. There are six power distribution entities in the country which sells electricity to retail consumers across the country. They are BPDB, Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB), Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC), Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited (Desco), Northern Electricity Supply Company PLS (Nesco), West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited (WZPDCL). On the other hand, BPDB is also a single buyer of bulk electricity in the power sector, which itself generates power and also buys electricity in bulk from different power generation companies and sells it to the distribution companies. The distribution entities sell electricity in retail to the consumers. The Power Division is under tremendous pressure from the Finance Ministry to raise power tariff in bulk and retail to cover its huge financial losses. The recent commitment of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide a $4.5 billion loan has increased the pressure as the donor agency has tagged a condition to decrease subsidy in the power sector and raise power tariff to cover the loss, said a Power Division official. Read more: BPDB submits review appeal to raise bulk power tariff Against the backdrop, he said, both the BPDB and distribution entities have initiated a move to place their respective proposals to the BERC to raise power tariff in bulk and retail. The BPDB on November 14 submitted its review appeal to the BERC to raise the bulk power tariff which remains pending for decision. The original proposal was rejected by BERC on October 13 as there was "data ambiguity". In the original proposal placed in May this year, the BPDB sought a rise in bulk power tariffs by 65.57 percent while a technical evaluation committee of BERC recommended a 57.83 percent hike. The BPDB showed that it will require Tk 74,189 crore in revenue to generate 88,993 million kilowatt hours (units) of electricity to supply to the power distribution companies. But if the BPDB sells its electricity at the existing rate of Tk 5.17 per unit, it will have to face a deficit of Tk 30,251 crore in revenue in the calendar year 2022. So, BPDB needs to raise the power tariff by 65.57 percent to Tk 8.56 per unit from Tk 5.17. Sources said the latest calculation reveals that the BPDB’s revenue deficit has further increased to about Tk 48,000 crore following the hike in petroleum fuel prices and also the price of dollars. Read more: Electricity price to remain unchanged for now “Previously we had calculated the dollar exchange rate at Tk 85. But now we have to calculate at Tk 107,, said a top official BPDB on condition of anonymity.
Power, Energy and Mineral Resources State Minister Nasrul Hamid has said the government is positive about a Singaporean company's proposal to set up a 400MW solar power plant in Matarbari of Maheshkhali upazila, Cox's Bazar . Nasrul said this as Singapore's Transport and Trade Relations Minister S Iswaran met with him at his office on Wednesday. "A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is likely to be signed within a few days," he said. Read more: Better coordination needed in power sector: Nasrul Hamid "We want to use Singapore's experience in the power and energy sector," the state minister said. "Bangladesh and Singapore can work jointly to implement projects on land-based LNG terminals, automation and IT sector, fast supply of petroleum products, human resource development, solar power and hydropower," Nasrul said. "If there is a framework agreement for cooperation in the power and energy sector, any project in these sectors can move forward quickly," he added. The state minister thanked the Singapore government for its continued cooperation with Bangladesh and also discussed different bilateral issues, mutual interest in the power and energy sector and areas of investment. Iswaran said his visit will strengthen Bangladesh-Singapore ties. Read more: Focus more on generating electricity from renewable sources: Nasrul Hamid "If an investment is undertaken by Infrastructure Trustee, it will yield good results,'' he added. "Singapore's experience in solar energy powered airport, floating solar power and power management can be shared." He also discussed the issues related to a framework agreement. The development of clean energy and issues of technical cooperation and fundraising also came up in the meeting. Singapore Non-Resident High Commissioner to Bangladesh Derek Loh Eu-Tse, Singapore Consul in Bangladesh Sheela Pillai, Bangladesh Power Development Board Chairman Mahbubur Rahman, North West Power Generation Company Chief Executive Officer AM Khorshedul Alam and Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain were also present.