Mentioning that BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has not yet appealed for her release on parole, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Sunday said the government will consider it if she admits her guilt and offers apology for it.
“The government will consider the BNP chief’s release if she appeals for parole after admitting her guilt and offering apology for it,” he said while talking to reporters after attending a religious programme in Tarail upazila in the afternoon.
The minister also said the BNP chairperson is receiving the country’s ‘highest’ treatment at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Khaleda has been in jail since she was convicted in the Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8, 2018. She was found guilty in another corruption case later the same year, though her party claims both cases are politically motivated.
Meanwhile, Khaleda’s lawyer Advocate Zainul Abedin told UNB on Sunday that they will again file a bail petition this week seeking their party chief’s release.
Pointing at section 401(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, he said the government can suspend jail term of such convicts under special consideration.
BNP leaders and activists on Saturday demonstrated in front of the party’s Nayapaltan central office demanding its chairperson’s release.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Friday said the government urgently needs to free Khaleda Zia on humanitarian grounds instead of doing politics over the issue.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and Jatiya Party leader GM Quader on Sunday laid emphasis on amending article 70 of the constitution to empower MPs in the House.
He said the Article 70 should be enforced for government formation, budget approval and no-confidence motion.
GM Quader came up with the proposal while speaking in Parliament on President’s speech.
He also proposed enforcing the proportional representation in Parliament and said MPs have to side with the party in the House due to the Article 70 as the breach of that leads to membership cancellation.
“As per the Westminster system, all are private members apart from the cabinet members…this is also there in our rules of procedure,” he said.
The deputy leader of the opposition mentioned that if all the MPs, including ruling and opposition, except the ministers, perform this duty individually and collectively then the government’s accountability can be ensured in Parliament.
Visiting Qatar State Minister for Foreign Affairs Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi on Sunday said their country wants to hire skilled manpower like physicians and engineers from Bangladesh.
“We want to take skilled manpower like physicians, engineers and others from Bangladesh,” he said during a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban office.
PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the meeting.
“We’ve many unexplored areas of cooperation…we’ve to explore these areas,” the Qatar state minister said.
He said Qatar wants cooperation in education sector between the two countries.
About the Rohingya crisis, Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi said their country will continue its support to Bangladesh over the Rohingya issue.
He appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for Bangladesh’s graduation from the group of least developed countries to a developing country under her leadership. “We’re following the implementation of your development programmes,” he said.
The Qatari state minister said they want Bangladesh to play a major role in the region and the Muslim world. “We don’t want others to interfere in our internal affairs. You (Sheikh Hasina) are the symbol of the Muslim world in this regard.”
The Prime Minister invited Qatar to invest in Bangladesh, saying land will be given to the Qatar investors as now 100 economic zones are being established across the country.
Sheikh Hasina invited the Emir of Qatar to visit Bangladesh during the ‘Mujib Borsho’, saying Bangladesh will be happy to receive him during the birth centenary celebrations of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Noting that education is the key to development, she said her government is giving importance to technical and vocational education. “We want to establish a poverty-free Bangladesh,” she said, adding that her government brought down the poverty rate to 20.5 percent in the country.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh gives importance to its relations with Muslim countries. “Together we can explore the areas for development,” she said.
Over the Rohingya issue, she said, “How long can we keep these Rohingyas (in Bangladesh)? It’s a burden on our economy.”
Sheikh Hasina said Myanmar has not yet initiated the repatriation process although it agreed to take back its nationals from Bangladesh.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, PM’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus and Qatar Ambassador to Bangladesh Ahmed Mohammed Nasser Al-Dehaimi were present at the meeting.
Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque on Sunday said some 1 lakh metric tons (MT) of crops were damaged in rat attacks in 2018.
He revealed the information while responding to a tabled question from ruling Awami League MP Habiba Rahman Khan (Women Seat-17) in Parliament.
The minister said the amount of crops damaged in rat attacks in 2017 was 90,385 MT while 88,844 MT in 2016, 94,388 MT in 2015 and 96,696 MT in 2014.
“Each year, 5-7 percent of Aman paddy, 4-12 percent of wheat, 5-7 percent of potato and 6-9 percent of pineapple get damaged in rat attacks,” he told the House.
Abdur Razzaque also said rats eat away 5-7 percent crops in field and 3-5 percent crops in warehouses each year.
He informed the House about government’s various measures taken to save crops from rate attacks through eliminating them.
Environment Minister M Shahab Uddin on Sunday said the air quality of Dhaka city has turned worse between 2016 and 2019 as works on various large infrastructure projects saw a sharp rise during the period.
He made the remark while responding to a query from Awami League MP Manjur Hossain from Faridpur-1 in Parliament.
Environment Minister M Shahab Uddin. Photo: Collected
The minister said brick kilns, vehicles, construction of different infrastructures and road digging, civic waste, biomass and trans-boundary influence are responsible for the air pollution in the capital.
He, however, said the government has taken various short-, mid- and long-term plans to control the air pollution. “The government has already shut down around 600 brick kilns across the country. All illegal brick kilns will be closed down gradually.”
As part of the short-term plan, the government ensured checking of the emission level of vehicles while providing fitness certificates, Shahab Uddin said, adding that the government has also ensured waste management of city corporations and stopped burning of waste.
As part of the mid-term plan, he said, the government has taken measures to set up high-speed water sprinklers at different hotspots of Dhaka city to control the air pollution through spraying water at high speed from very high above.
Besides, the government will set up dust suckers and introduce vacuum sweeping trucks instead of manual broom to clean roads, the minister said.
As part of the long-term plan, he said, the government has also taken various measures, including enacting a complete Clean Air Act-2020, for effectively dealing with the entire air pollution.
Replying to a query from Awami League MP from Dhaka-7 Haji Mohammad Salim, Shabab Uddin said the government created forest on 94,939 hectares and brought 71,456 kms under forestation in the last 36 years since 1982 through social forestation and involving local helpless and poor people.
He also said the government distributed around Tk 356.82 crore among 6.78 lakh people who were engaged in the social forestation during the period.