Cumilla, Oct 1 (UNB) - After selling off sand and earth from the vicinity of the Gomti River, now encroachers have started selling off its land illegally, posing a serious threat to its protection dam and destroying its beauty.
Local people alleged that powerful people are now selling government land at Tk 1 lakh per decimal among the poor through stamped papers.
During a recent visit from Alekharchar Amtali Bridge area to Tikkarchar Bridge, the UNB correspondent found over a hundred houses, shops on both sides of the river and on the dam.
Talking to the correspondent, the so-called owners of the houses and shops said they bought the lands from some local influential people through stamped papers where there is a mention that nobody will claim the ownership of the land property but they will have to go away if the government wants them to do so.
Rafiqul Islam of Shahartali Chanpur area said six people, including Rafique himself, bought a land from Raja Mia at Tk 1 lakh per decimal a year back, and they have settled over there.
Mizanur Rahman also bought a piece of land from a man in Pachthubi union at Tk 1.5 lakh per decimal and set up a grocery shop over there.
Md Abdul Latif, executive engineer of Cumilla Water Development Board, said they prepared a list to evict establishments set up on the riverbank protection embankment after visiting the area and the list of 317 illegal structures was submitted to the Deputy Commissioner on September 22.
“If the land cannot be reclaimed from the encroachers right now, the embankment will be at stake,” he said adding that they will soon start the eviction drive as a letter in this regard has already been sent to the Deputy Commissioner.
Deputy Commissioner of Cumilla Abul Fazal Mir said they have got the list of illegal structures on government land from the Water Development Board (WDB) and the magistrate and police force are ready to assist the WDB in this regard whenever they want.
He said it has become difficult to save the country's many rivers due to illegal sand dredging and large-scale industrial pollution.
On Jul 1, 2019, the High Court declared the country's rivers as ‘living entities’, aiming to save them from encroachment.
The court appointed the country's River Conservation Commission as the legal guardian of all the waterways and directed other state agencies to fully assist them.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) carried out a massive eviction drive along the banks of the rivers around capital Dhaka, demolishing over 4,000 illegal structures.
Dhaka, Sept 30 (UNB) – Though the number of cancer patients is growing alarmingly in the country, treatment facilities and specialist doctors are very scanty here for lack of a comprehensive oncology education programme, said experts.
As a result, they said, nearly 50 percent cancer patients have to go abroad spending huge money for the treatment of the deadly diseases while many others either stop continuing treatment halfway through or die without treatment or getting maltreated.
According to officials at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH), there are only 16 medical oncologists in Bangladesh against the requirement of at least 2,000-2,500.
Besides, they said, the country requires at least 5,000 hospital beds for cancer patients but now it has only 500.
Talking to UNB, Prof Dr M A Hai, the Chief Patron of Medical Oncology Society in Bangladesh, said it is estimated that about 200,000 people are affected with cancer in Bangladesh every year.
“Our existing treatment facilities can serve hardly 70,000-75,000 patients. The vast majority of patients either go abroad or remain undetected, and possibly die untreated or maltreated,” he said.
He said it is urgent to develop infrastructure and increase equipment and adequate skilled manpower to ensure cancer treatment facilities at least in every division to alleviate the sufferings of people affected with the fatal disease.
Dr Muhammad Rafiqul Islam, an assistant professor at the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital (NICRH), said the number of cancer patients is increasing in the country for various reasons, including food adulteration, environment pollution, smoking and genetic problems.
He said there are now around 15 to 20 lakh cancer patients in Bangladesh while around 2, 00,000 more such patients are added every year. “Of them, 1.2 lakh die each year.”
Rafiqul said more than 50 percent cancer patients go abroad for treatment for lack of healthcare facilities and skilled manpower in the country and thus it is losing huge foreign currency.
“We’ve only 16 oncologists in the country while only four students in oncology department get chance in medical colleges every year. So, how will we get enough doctors?” he observed.
The NICRH professor said there is a severe shortage of efficient manpower in specialised cancer treatment for lack of a comprehensive oncology education programme. “We want medical oncology subject to be included in most of the medical colleges to increase doctors to take care cancer patients.”
Maruf Al Hasan, a blood cancer specialist of Apollo Hospitals Dhaka, said cancer institution is needed in every division as cancer patient is increasing sharply in the country.
“Around 500 cancer patients are getting admitted to our hospital every month while a huge number of adults are getting affected with blood cancer. Besides, youth and children are also increasingly affected with it,” he added.
Dr Maruf said huge cancer patients, mainly middle-income ones, go to India from Bangladesh for treatment. “But the rich ones go to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the USA and the UK. So, we need to improve cancer treatment facilities in our country. If a cancer institute is set up in every division, then patients will be able to receive treatment there instead of going abroad.”
Prof Dr Kanak Kanti Barua, Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), said cancer is now a major challenge for the country.
“Concentrations and patterns of pollution in developing country like Bangladesh have altered dramatically with the rapid economic development and urbanization over the past decade which is associated with cancer incident or mortality, especially for high pollution ranges and lifestyle factors. So, we need adequate skilled manpower to address the problem,” he observed.
Prof Parveen Shahida Akhter, chairperson of Medical Oncology Society in Bangladesh, said cancer treatment is a multidisciplinary approach and medical oncologists are the part and parcel of comprehensive cancer management.
“We’ve a few medical oncologists which is very much in sufficient with respect to the need of Bangladesh till today. Seats are limited at the entry point and also scarcity of posts to deploy existing postgraduate faculties. Besides, there’s no medical oncology department in medical colleges hospitals in our country, except the NICRH, Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital, Cancer Centre and Combined Military Hospital (CMH),” she said.
Parveen said all these centres are Dhaka-based ones and overburdened with huge cancer patients. “This situation frequently hampers the quality of cancer management and increases the treatment costs and sufferings of the patients.”
To overcome the problem, the country needs to decentralise cancer care and ensure modern and well-managed cancer facilities in the peripheries as soon as possible.
Brahmanbaria, Sept 30 (UNB) – A school playground is a place from where students return to their classes with a fresh zeal after recess, but the students of a government primary school in Sarail upazila have a different experience.
They are not as lucky as other students of many schools in the country as a section of people have turned their playground into a fish enclosure obstructing the discharge of rainwater into the nearby canal.
The students of Shahzadpur East Government Primary School are being deprived of plying games or sports or arranging cultural progammes on their playground due to stagnant water.
Talking to the UNB correspondent during a recent visit to the school, some students and local people said rainwater used to get drained out from the field within 1-2 hours of rain through an adjacent canal but now that way-out for rainwater has been blocked and it remains waterlogged always.
Students of the school said now they cannot play during their tiffin break or sing the national anthem together as the playground remains waterlogged all the time.
There are four teachers and 187 students in the school, and its classes are held on the first floor of the school building while the ground floor is used for meeting with guardians.
Now the meetings of guardians cannot be arranged on the ground floor for the stagnant water, locals alleged.
As the schoolground is 3-feet lower than the road it gets waterlogged during monsoon, causing immense sufferings to its students and teachers, and guardians.
Some influential people have started cultivating fish blocking the path of rainwater discharge ignoring the children’s need and inconveniences of teachers and guardians, the locals complained.
Once the schoolground was used for many purposes, including holding cultural programmes or namaz-e-janzas of deceased, but now all have been stopped, they said.
They demanded the authorities concerned take immediate steps to drain out the stagnant water from schoolground and make it useful to school children.
Yasmin Begum, headteacher of the school, said Aziz, a relative of school committee president Dulalur Rahman, is involved in fish farming in the schoolground.
Abdul Aziz, Upazila Education Officer, said a probe committee has been formed in this regard and action will be taken once the probe report is available.
Dhaka, Sep 29 (UNB) – The Local Government Division (LGD) is going for a Waste-to-Energy project in coordination with the Power Division to manage solid municipal waste (SMW) to be collected from city corporation areas of Dhaka and Chattogram.
Official sources in the LGD and Power Division said the project will be implemented in the private sector. The Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) will purchase the electricity.
There will be no tipping fee for the project sponsor while the city corporations will ensure adequate supply of waste to the project as per agreement, said the sources.
Heat generated from burning the waste will be used to produce power, officials said, adding that such project is available in China and many Asian countries.
They said the first project will be implemented in Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) area on a pilot basis.
“If it’s successful, then more projects will be implemented in other areas,” said Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary (renewable energy) of the Power Division, who is also a member of the high-powered working group formed by LGD.
Officials said initiatives to generate power from SMW were taken several times in the last 20 years.
“But none of them succeeded because of a lack of coordination among government agencies, absence of policy support and cost effectiveness,” said a top BPDB official working closely with renewable energy projects.
“This time we hope things will move positively as all relevant agencies, stakeholders and the Prime Minister’s Office are serious about successful implementation of the project,” he told UNB, declining to be named.
He mentioned that a Waste-to-Energy project, recently undertaken by PDB in Keraniganj municipal area, was cancelled because of high cost of electricity tariff – Tk40 per kilowatt hour – offered by the interested private firm.
The deficiency of solid waste was another reason for the cancellation of the project.
Official sources said the new project plan came into the forefront as the two dumping stations of DNCC and Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) at Aminbazar and Matuaile are going to be filled within two years.
The Department of Environment also raised concerns about the existing waste management system which creates environmental risks.
The LGD convened a meeting on April 25 this year and formed a seven-member working group headed by additional secretary of the ministry.
The other members of the working group are – BPDB chairman, member of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda), chief executive officers of DNCC and DSCC, a joint secretary of Power Division and a representative of DoE.
During discussion, it found that the Prime Minister had instructed the authorities concerned during an Ecnec meeting on December 1, 2015 to introduce incineration system for waste management.
Official sources said the working group set a detailed coordinated working process to implement incineration-based Waste-to-Energy project for garbage management.
As part of the detail process, DNCC received 17 proposals from international firms. The Power Division scrutinised the proposals and initially selected four of them, said a top official.
The proposals were sent to BPDB for a final scrutiny where they will be shortlisted and asked to submit financial proposals.
A BPDB official said the working group has recommended implementing the project on unsolicited basis under the Increase of Speedy Supply of Power and Energy Act 2010 to implement it swiftly.
Four agreements will be signed with a firm once it is selected. They are – Implementation Agreement, Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Land Lease Agreement and Waste Supply Agreement.
Narayanganj, Sep 29 (UNB) – The Khan Saheb Osmani Stadium in Fatullah, which had become one of the most important venues for cricket in the country since gaining ICC recognition in 2006, is today on the verge of destruction due to persistent waterlogging.
Witnesses said piles of waste peer out of the entrance to the link road of the stadium where the canal for water drainage between the link road and the stadium has turned into a garbage dump.
The glass exteriors of the commentary box and hospitality suites have numerous cracks on them, while the roof installed over the gallery seats to protect spectators from rain or sunshine has already collapsed.
Instead of the carnival atmosphere it witnessed while hosting a number of international fixtures for Bangladesh from 2006-2015, today it resembles an abandoned ghost town, or something out of Armageddon.
Seasonal rainwater plus water trapped in the area for years from the Dhaka-Narayanganj-Demra canal system mixed in with factory chemicals has turned the entire venue, including the practise area, into a giant cesspool.
The road along the three-minute walk leading to the stadium is inundated by contaminated water trapped there for years with awful odors. The stagnant water has become a breeding ground for insects and mosquitoes.
The stadium with a capacity of 25,000 spectators started its journey as an international venue on March 23, 2006 with an ODI between Bangladesh and Kenya. That same year, it hosted its first Test match during Australia’s tour of Bangladesh. The journey concluded with another match between Bangladesh and India on April 28.
It did not get the chance to host any T20s of Bangladesh. In fact, as the waterlogging problem emerged, Fatullah has not seen any international cricket since 2015.
The venue has been losing proper care as no international games are held there and it will lose its efficacy entirely if this condition prevails.
Locals said that the main site on which the stadium was built used to be a water body, and in fact the entire area had been a low-lying area with no houses, residences or business establishments adjacent to it.
But a number of new establishments were built around the stadium which pushed the land of the stadium to an even lower level compared to other places. The canal that was supposed to drain out unnecessary water from the stadium is now performing the opposite duty and causing water stagnation there.
Locals demanded immediate removal of the waste and water from the stadium and remedial measures to ensure Narayanganj can regularly start hosting international matches again.
Tanvir Ahmed Titu, General Secretary of district Sports Association, said: “We know about the critical condition of the stadium but we’ve nothing to do about it as it is the duty of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) to take care of the stadium.”
Venue Manager Md Bablu Mia said a development project of the stadium is underway and BCB is supervising it.
A group of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) engineers have been working to figure out how the stadium can be sustainably renovated and work will begin after the Buet team submits their plan shortly, he added.
Abdul Baten, Manager of Ground and Facilities department of BCB, said they were working to develop the facilities of the main and outer stadium.
The ground level of the stadium is much lower than adjacent area which is causing the persistent waterlogging after rain, he said.