Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rajshahi Floodlights


Four hundred flood light bulbs of Rajshahi Divisional Stadium are being taken to Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka for holding the day-night tri- series in June.

The decision was taken in order to prepare the Mirpur venue eligible for the international cricket match in a low cost of about Tk 2 crore. For holding international cricket matches, there must be 2200 lax lights (light unit) from the floodlight towers, but the Mirpur venue now has only 800 lax lights, as it was prepared as a football stadium.

"The present floodlights of Mirpur Stadium are eligible for holding football matches, not for cricket. This is why, floodlight bulbs of Rajshahi will be taken to Mirpur for a short period of time", said Badruddin Ahmed, deputy director, National Cricket Council of Rajshahi.

"This would save around Tk 10 crore for fresh purchase of floodlights", he said.

Activities for taking the bulbs have already started as concerned officials visited the spots and figured out methods of transferring the bulbs, he informed adding that the bulbs would be reinstalled at Rajshahi at end of the international matches.

It was learned that NEO Sports, television rights holders of any international match held in Bangladesh, have asked for the lights since India have pressed to play under lights.

Earlier Bangladesh Cricket Board sought permission of National Cricket Council for the shifting of bulbs and the plan was approved last week.

The floodlight shifting works will be ended with June 1. The tri-nation one-day series among India, Pakistan and Bangladesh is scheduled to be held between June 8 and 15.

News of the Rajshahi Divisional Stadium floodlights being taken away to Dhaka sparked sharp reaction among sport lovers here who condemned the incident and announced protest movement.

The protesters claimed that the authorities are avoiding Rajshahi in holding international cricket matches on plea of residential problems. But the divisional headquarters fulfilled all necessary requirements including quality grounds for holding the same.

However, employees sent by National Cricket Council started taking off floodlights from Rajshahi Divisional Stadium Thursday morning.

The stadium sources said it will take three days to take off the lights as 400 bulbs will be sent to Dhaka's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium for holding the tri-nation series in June involving India, Pakistan and the hosts.

Rajshahi Test Venue Movement Council (RTVMC) called for a human chain programme on Saturday demanding cancellation of the decision of shifting Rajshahi floodlights.

"We have demanded to make Rajshahi a Test venue for long and the authorities always turned a blind eye to our demand. Now they are taking away floodlights to downsize the quality of our stadium. Such move cannot be tolerated," said RTVMC convenor Liaqat Ali."If Rajshahi is not made a Test venue for residential problems, how does the Mirpur stadium qualified for international matches without floodlights?" he asked.

Rajshahi Rakkha Shangram Parisad convenor Zamat Khan said that they will go for tough movements if the steps were not cancelled immediately.

Rezaun Nabi, acting Rajshahi mayor, and all ward commissioners in a joint statement expressed deep concern at the shifting of the lights.

Rajshahi District Sports Association general secretary Imtiaj Ahmed Shamsul Huda said his association requested NCC to reconsider their decision.

Many local clubs also issued statements protesting the matter as well as demanding immediate cancellation of the decision.

Rajshahi Test Venue Movement Council (RTVMC) yesterday called off their protest programme scheduled for today following 'fruitful discussions' with the Joint Forces here over shifting of floodlights.

Liaqat Ali, convener of RTVMC said that the Joint Forces promised and took responsibility for taking back the floodlights from Dhaka.

"They promised us that they would take back the floodlights just after the international matches," he said.

National Cricket Council is taking floodlights from Rajshahi Divisional Stadium to Mirpur's Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Dhaka for holding the tri-nation one-day series from June 8.

Talking to newsmen, Liaqat also said that the Joint Forces promised them to convince the Chief of Army Staff Gen Moeen U Ahmed about arrangement of holding Test matches in the northwestern city.

Moeen U Ahmed is likely to visit Rajshahi soon.

However, NCC officials promised from the very beginning that the Rajshahi floodlights are being taken to Mirpur on a temporary period.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Heat wave, water-power crisis disrupt life in northern dists

Weary of the scorching heat, buffalos stream in towards the Padma River to quench their thirst and have a relishing bath. The photo was taken from Sreerampur in Rajshahi yesterday.
Mercury rises to 39.4 degree Celsius in Rajshahi: Weathermen say no respite in sight

Friday, April 18, 2008

Father kills 2 babies, makes suicide attempt

A father drowned his two infant daughters in a pond and made a suicide attempt afterwards at Paschimbhag village in Puthia upazila yesterday.

Locals retrieved the dead bodies from the pond and found the father, Bablur Rahman, 35, beside the pond in a critical state. He is currently undergoing treatment for poisoning at Puthia Health Complex.

The victims are identified as Rehana, 1-½, and Sohana, 3.

Bablu used to be a day labourer until he sustained back injury a few months back. As the injury rendered him incapable of supporting his family -- wife, a son and two daughters, he had been staying at his mother-in-law's house at Dasmaria, said his relatives and locals. The living child, Shajib, 10, is a student of local Brac School, they added.

They also said remorse and guilt for not being able to provide for the family might be behind Bablu's actions.

Asela, Bablu's wife, said he looked distressed in the past several days when he often told her, "What can I do? I cannot run my family and cannot even provide for my children."

Asela's mother, Hazera Begum, said as her daughter and Babul had been in severe hardship, she brought them and their three children along to stay with her.

However, Khaled Mamun Chowdhury, upazila nirbahi officer of Puthia and Jasim Uddin, officer-in-charge (OC) of Puthia Police Station, claimed that Bablu had genetic mental disorder that led him to kill his little girls.

"His brothers and cousins are also insane," said OC Jasim.

At around 10am, Bablu took the two girls out with Tk 40 from his mother-in-law, saying that he would buy them sweets, said Hazera.

Bablu took off his clothes, wrapped up the two girls in his lungi and pushed them down into the pond with a banana trunk, locals said adding that he then drank poison that he had bought with the money.

11 JMB men get life for sedition

A Rajshahi divisional court yesterday awarded life terms to all 11 militants of Jama'aul Mujahidin, Bangladesh (JMB) in a sedition case filed for taking combat training to fight against the state in 2005.

Judge M Sajedul Karim of the first court of Rajshahi divisional special judge also fined the accused Tk 20,000 each, in default of which they are to spend two more years in jail.

The convicts include Enamul Haque and Golamur Rahman alias Golam Mostafa, both regional JMB commanders and followers of executed militant leader Siddikul Islam Bangla Bhai and arrested militant kingpin Asadullah Al Galib respectively.

The others sentenced are – Rajshahi University Arabic student Ibrahim Hossain, madrassah teacher Jaharul Islam, madrassah students Merajul Islam, Shah Wali Ullah, Zakir Hossain, Mansur Rahman, Biplob Hossain, Abu Zafar and Mozammel Hossain.

They were arrested from Mozammel's house at Puthiapara in Paba upazila on July 18, 2005 while they undergoing combat training. Police recovered diaries and notes from them including details on 'restricted military training on arms, ammunition and detonators', guerrilla warfare and revolutionary Islamic slogans and songs for Jihad.

The training included making simple and sophisticated bombs including time bombs and remote control bombs, operating rifles, etc. Local and foreign personnel provided the trainings, according to the prosecution.

After investigation, sub-inspector Zahidul Islam, the then officer-in-charge of Paba police station, lodged a sedition case with a magistrate court on September 4, 2005 and pressed charges against them on February 6, 2006.

Delivering the judgement the court said, prosecution allegations that the militants were engaged in anti-state activities and that they had been receiving 'exclusive combat training on arms, ammunition and detonators' with ulterior motives against the state was proved without any doubt.

The court examined a total of eight prosecution witnesses in the case and evidence recovered from possessions of the accused.

One of the sentenced militants, Mozammel, hurled abuses at the police and journalists after the sentence was read out.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Barely making ends meet

"Life goes on somehow…a bit better than many others," Islam, a philosophy teacher at a government college, blurted in a choked voice with tears welled up in his eyes.

Islam, who represents the middleclass and lives in a rented house in the Ghoramara area with his wife and their two-year-old child, has already reduced his family spending and stopped attending social events only to survive the spiralling prices of rice and other commodities.

"I no longer can afford to maintain my status as a first class government official. I cut back on several necessities, yet the monthly deficit is increasing so fast that it's about to drive me crazy," said Islam, unwilling to give out his full name.

"Nevertheless, I feel relieved when I see that the conditions of my lower level colleagues and the ones at private colleges are even much worse," he added.

Even a year ago, he could save a little money after spending out of his salary of Tk 7,450 scale, Islam said adding that the biting reality of the surging prices of essentials does not allow him to even dream of saving up for the future anymore.

"I used to be able to send around Tk 2,000 from my savings to my parents living at the village home, but now it has become too difficult to manage even Tk 1,000 for them."

He now buys three litres of soybean oil at a time instead of his usual purchase of 4.5 litres. To reduce spending, he also switched to kerosene stove from gas stove for cooking.

"I cannot buy good outfits as my heart would desire… Neither can I afford to buy any latest good book -- a professional necessity that enables me to stay updated. I gave up attending invitations a year ago since buying a good gift [for the invitation] is not within my capacity anymore."

"If my situation is like this, just imagine what the second or third class employees are going through. I get some consolation thinking about them," said Islam.

Thousands of other middle class, let alone the low-income group families in Rajshahi and elsewhere in the country, are enduring similar hardships due to the unusual prices of rice and other commodities.

This correspondent spoke with an official of Rajshahi Regional Information Office and asked about the impact of the price increase on his day-to-day life.

Highly embarrassed to speak of his hardship, he requested this correspondent not to mention his name or his position in his office.

This government official who draws a monthly salary of Tk 13,000, was talking to this correspondent while walking toward the nearby market carrying a tattered shirt in a bag.

"I wanted to give it away to someone else, but now I am taking it [to the tailor] to have it repaired for myself," he lamented. Pointing at the pants he was wearing, he said, "It is also repaired.

"I could not afford to send my child to school this year although he turned five years this March."

It is getting increasingly difficult for him to survive with his present income although he and his wife have only two children, with one going to school already.

The financially strained family got into an awkward situation a few weeks ago when the official's brother-in-law and his family members paid a visit to his house. "I had to borrow money to entertain them for three days."

"For the last several months, I have been buying three litres of soybean oil rather than the usual five litres," he said.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Money-spinner strawberry draws government attention

National Seed Board to approve variety for expansion of cultivation

Heritage publishes its first quarterly journal

Arts & Entertainment

Heritage, an archive of Bangladeshi history, published its first issue of quarterly journal Sthaniya Itihash (Local History) at the hall of Shahidullah Arts Building, Rajshahi University (RU) recently.

Noted historian and former Chairman of History Department, Dhaka University, Professor Muntasir Mamun, attended the publication ceremony as the chief guest.

Professor Emeritus, RU, Dr ABM Hossain along with Professor SM Latif and Professor Nurul Hossain Chowdhury spoke at the programme well attended by intellectuals and history students.

Professor Atful Hye Shibli, former Pro Vice-Chancellor chaired the event.

Professor Abul Kashem, History Department, RU edited the journal that includes 15 essays focusing the local histories of different areas in the country.

The archive was founded in July last year by Dr M Mahbubur Rahman, an RU history teacher to document the history and traditions of Bangladesh as well as to facilitate researchers.

Professor Muntasir Mamun in his speech said, "The study of history deserves much attention. Without delving into history, the origins of a nation will remain in shadows."

15 evicted indigenous families in Patnitala finally get land deeds


Finally, Naogaon district administration distributed deeds of permanent settlement of about 1.33 acres of khas land among 15 landless indigenous families in North Kazipara in Dibor union under Patnitala upazila.

Some local land grabbers evicted them from the lands in November last year.

The deeds were written at a simple ceremony, held at Patnitala on March 31.

Sudhir Tirki, president of Patnitala unit of Jatiya Adibashi Parishad, Gulu Murmu, president of the upazila unit of Adibashi Samaj Unnayan Shangathan, Rakhi Mrong, publication secretary of Bangladesh Adibashi Odhikar Andolon and organising secretary Kerina Hasda were present on the occasion.

The 15 people who got the land deeds are Nikhil Ekka, Khuyu Kujur, Kison Kerketa, Shusil Toppo, Buddhinath Kujur, Banu Ekka, Khuyu Ekka, Hembo Ekka, Subol Lakra, Rupchan Ria, Chanua Nania, Palanu, Anil Toppo, Rabi Ekka and Sujil Ekka.

They were residing in the area since the British era, sources said.

The local administration in 1990 leased the lands to a local influential man--Idris Ali-- and his brother Safiuddin for 99 years. The indigenous families were defeated in several legal battles.

In November last year, some 200 goons engaged by the lessees evicted the indigenous families.

As The Daily Star published reports on the incidents and different social bodies raised their voice. The district hen administration promised permanent settlement of the lands to the evicted indigenoius families.

Later, the upazila land distribution committee cancelled the lease.

"We always try to work for people. But our activities are hampered by political influence", said Upazila Nirbahi Officer M Abdul Mannan.

Bumper boro harvest on horizon

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Commercial cultivation of strawberry promises hefty gains for farmers

Quamruzzaman's (inset) strawberry field at Harishpur in Natore left,and Dr. Manjur Hossain with plucked fruits in Rajshahi city. Photo: STAR
Farmers will soon get a new highly value added fruit for commercial cultivation, thanks to years of tireless efforts by two persons.

Rajshahi University Botany teacher Dr Manjur Hossain evolved a variety of strawberry suitable for cultivation in Bangladesh's climate. Horticulturist Quamruzzaman of Natore commercially cultivated the variety on 1.5 bighas of land this year.

The red juicy and nutritious fruit produced by them was supplied to posh markets in Dhaka recently.

With farmer-level price of around Tk 300 per kg, the commercially viable fruit has great export potential and will benefit farmers enormously, the pioneers said while talking to this correspondent at their fields recently.

It can be harvested within two and a half months of plantation and a farmer can earn around Tk 6 lakh from one bigha of land by spending only Tk 20,000, they said.

Besides being taken as a fruit, it is used in preparing ice-cream, jam, jelly, pickle, chocolate, biscuit, cake or milk shake.

Dr Manjur did his PhD in Japan. While returning home, he brought saplings of eight varieties of strawberry in 1996.

Quamruzaaman collected six varieties from Japan and America but none of the varieties sustained in Bangladesh climate.

Manjur evolved some new varieties through tissue culture at the Plant Breeding and Gene Engineering Laboratory at his Botany department. Manjur started filed experiments at Bhadra in Rajshahi city and Quamruzzaman at his Modern Horticulture Center at Harishpur in Natore.

In 2003, three varieties yielded encouraging results and were found suitable in local climate. Out of the three, RU-3 and Modern-3 varieties were found very impressive in size, taste and flavour.

"We found the best results this year in hilly areas at Matiranga Army Zone where 26 Cavalry Division produced quality strawberries from 200 saplings", said Dr Manjur.

Strawberry cultivation is as easy as growing potatoes or brinjals. Saplings can be sown in rows in November and December. The plant starts flowering within one month of plantation and fruits can be collected till March.

Saplings can be collected from nurseries of Dr Manjur and Quamruzzaman in Natore.

Each plant bears around 250 to 300 grams of fruits and some 6000 plants can be grown on one bigha of land, they said.

Now, traders import strawberry from Thailand and Australia at Tk 900 to Tk 1200 per kg. Strawberry flavour is also imported.

A farmer can get 2000 kg fruit from one bigha of land by spending Tk 20,000.