Sundarbans, world’s largest mangrove forest, is abuzz with footsteps of a large number of tourists – both local and foreign – due its scenic beauty and diverse wildlife. After three months of closure, Sundarbans opened to tourists on September 1. The mangrove forest was off-limits to tourists from June 1 to August 31 by the Forest Department to ensure the breeding of 375 species of wild animals and 291 species of fish, including the Bengal tiger and deer. According to the Forest Department, at present, 114 Royal Bengal tigers, 375 species of wildlife including 200,000 deer, 334 species of plants including Sundari, 165 species of algae, 13 species of orchids, and 300 species of birds call the Sundarbans home. Fence to be erected in parts of Sundarbans to tackle human-tiger conflicts Kazi Muhammad Nurul Karim, forest officer of Sundarbans East zone, said a total of 4,908 local and 72 foreign tourists have visited the Sundarbans since it reopened till September 26. Last year, the number of local tourists was 2,332 and foreign tourists were seven in the 26 days of September. Md Saiful Islam, director of Sundari Eco Resort, said an eco village has been set up in Dhangmari, and they are working on developing community-based tourism. Sundarbans reopens to tourists, foresters after three-month closure “We have provided employment to hundreds of locals, and the local stakeholders are also being benefited through this,” he said. “This month, we have provided services to 34 tourists from China, Germany, Japan, Poland and India and the visitors felt delighted to visit the village, wearing local attire,” he added. Abu Foysal Mohammad Sayem Babu, director of Holidays Tours and Travels, said, “The Sundarbans has become the biggest attraction for foreign travellers, and keeping that in mind we are providing services to tourists through modern and luxurious cruise ships.” Deer poaching in Sundarbans rising at alarming rate amid lax monitoring He also claimed that the number of tourists in the Sundarbans will see further increase if the government lowers the travel fee for foreign travellers. A Japanese tourist, currently in the Sundarbans, said, “After hearing the story of the Sundarbans, I came here, at the Sundari Eco Resort. I did not expect to see such a charming village.” Azad Kabir, in-charge of Karamjal Tourist and Wild Animal Breeding Center, said that hundreds of tourists have visited the main attractions in the Sundarbans, and were overwhelmed by the scenic beauty.
Agricultural entrepreneur and mango exporter Ismail Khan Shamim has garnered significant attention by adopting ultra-high-density mango cultivation technique that has doubled the yield. Shamim's innovative approach has set an example for sustainable and high-yield farming methods that could transform the entire district's mango production landscape. His orchard, located in the Academy Mor area in Shibganj upazila, now boasts an impressive sight, with every tree laden with bountiful bunches of mangoes. Shamim's journey began six years ago when he ventured to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, where he got inspiration from the concept of ultra-high-density mango cultivation. Upon his return, he embarked on a mission to implement this innovative method in his hometown. Traditionally, eight to twelve trees are planted per bigha of land, but in his orchard, he adopted the new approach planting 224 trees at a close distance of 9.5 feet by 6.5 feet. Explaining the rationale behind his method, Shamim said unlike conventional techniques that often required decades to fill the vacant land, his approach enabled the complete utilization of the area within just three years. This accelerated timeline for yield, coupled with controlled tree height, streamlined maintenance, reduced costs, and facilitated fruit harvesting. Shamim said, "This farming method is unrivaled in terms of achieving higher yields within a shorter time and maximizing land use efficiency." The benefits of Shamim's new technique have already started to manifest, with mangoes worth TK 3 lakh already sold this season. Each maund of mangoes fetches a reasonable price of Tk 10,000, and Shamim anticipates turning a profit this year after five years of garden development. Shamim's mango cultivation method has sparked a wave of interest among local farmers. Taufiqul Islam, a mango grower from the Manaksha Choudhurtola area, said, "I am impressed by this new method of mango cultivation, and I seek advice from Shamim bhai on adopting this method for my own orchard." Salauddin, another local mango farmer, said, "Shamim Bhai has introduced a revolutionary way of cultivating mangoes. I intend to replicate this technique in my garden." Agricultural entrepreneurs like Samiul Azam and Jasim Akram underscored the advantages of easy orchard maintenance and the potential for increased mango production in the district. Md. Mokhlesur Rahman, the Chief Scientific Officer of Chapainawabganj Regional Horticulture Research Center, explained that ultra-high-density cultivation, characterized by close tree spacing, can significantly boost mango yields. He said, "With this method, the land is fully utilized within three years, compared to traditional cultivation, which could take a decade or more to achieve the same results." He also said the method reduces costs, enhances fruit quality, and ensures that mangoes remain within easy reach for harvesting. Encouraged by the promising results, Rahman and Dr. Palash Sarkar, Deputy Director of the Agriculture Extension Department in Chapainawabganj, are actively promoting ultra-high-density mango cultivation through training and guidance to local farmers.
The Dhaka Elevated Expressway has been witnessing higher traffic than targeted, allowing the authorities to collect tolls more than Tk 5 crore in tolls since it was opened to the public on September 3. Till 6am on Sunday (September 24), a total of 621,152 vehicles, mostly private cars, used the Dhaka Elevated Expressway and total revenue collection amounted to over Tk 5.03 crore, said project director of the Dhaka Elevated Expressway AHMS Akhtar. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on September 2 inaugurated the Airport-Farmgate segment of Dhaka Elevated Expressway after paying a Tk 2,000 toll for 25 vehicles in her motorcade. Each vehicle is charged Tk 80. Authorities opened the section from the airport to Farmgate of Dhaka Elevated Expressway for vehicular movement at 6am on September 3. It takes only 10-12 minutes to reach Farmgate from the Airport via the expressway. Read: BRTC launches bus service on Dhaka Elevated Expressway “We assumed earlier that on average around 20,000 vehicles would use the expressway daily but now the number has increased to around 30,000 vehicles,” said the project director AHMS Akhtar. When fully completed, the Dhaka Elevated Expressway will run from the capital’s Kawla to Kutubkhali area of Dhaka-Chattogram highway via Kuril-Banani-Mohakhali-Tejgaon-Moghbazar-Kamalapur-Sayedabad-Jatrabari. “We hope when it is completed, about 80,000 vehicles will be able to use Dhaka Elevated Expressway every day,” Akhtar told UNB. Replying to a question, the Project Director said vehicles can run at a speed of up to 80 km/h according to the design of the expressway but they have limited it up to 60 km/h, and 40 km/h on the ramp. They are yet to start enforcing law against violators of speed limit, although CCTV cameras and other equipment have already been installed on the expressways. Read: Elevated expressway a big step towards Smart Bangladesh: Korean Ambassador Meanwhile, Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has been running buses on the Dhaka Elevated Expressway starting from September 18. Passengers are now crossing the Dhaka Elevated Expressway for just Tk35. Earlier on September 15 , BRTC Chairman Tajul Islam announced the new bus route from Khejur Bagan to Jashimuddin Road on the Elevated Expressway. He said initially a total of eight buses were supposed to operate from three depots. Commuters can board the buses from both ends of the expressway, he added. But the number of BRTC buses, plying on the express highway, has raised to 12. “A total of 12 buses are now running on the expressway route. Passengers are satisfied with the service, we are satisfied too that the number of passengers is increasing,” said Bishwajit, BRTC bus counter staff working at the Farmgate bus counter of Uttara-Farmgate BRTC bus route. Read: Traffic jam at landing points as Dhaka Elevated Expressway opens Eight double-decker buses started plying the expressway initially from September 18, he added. Bishwajit informed that a bus is running every 10 minutes from the farmgate bus counter to Uttara. Buses are sometimes late because of the traffic jams on either end of the expressway, he said. “We are working day and night to make the service better for the passengers. The number of buses has been increased on the route for increasing the number of passengers, soon the bus schedules can be maintained tightly,” he further said. Tanjila Rahman, a commuter, was buying a ticket from the Farmgate BRTC expressway bus counter to go to Uttara on Sunday afternoon. When asked, she said that she had come for a job interview in the morning and that she had reached Indira Road from the airport in just 10-15 minutes. “I liked the service very much. It took much less time than usual to reach from airport to here. I am going back through the same route,” she added. Another commuter, Md Rayhan, said that previously he had to travel for at least 1.5 hours to reach his office in Karwanbazar from home. He stated that it is a fantastic experience for him that he is able to reach his office using the expressway in just 20 to 30 minutes. Read: Another dream comes true: PM Hasina opens country’s first elevated expressway Another passenger Rafiujjaman Riyon opined that local buses have too many stoppages, take too much time and they often charge higher fares. “BRTC expressway route uses e-ticketing system, so the fee stays fair. BRTC could make the bus seats more comfortable. Also, if the route had a few more stops, it would help a greater number of passengers,” he suggested. UNB correspondent Taufiq Hossain Mobin took a ride on an expressway bus. It set off at 1.10pm from Farmgate for Uttara. The bus was slow at first because of the traffic jam on Bijoy Sarani, taking 23 minutes to get on the expressway. After that, the bus took only 17 minutes to reach the end of the expressway but slowed down again due to the traffic jam at the other end and he got off from the bus at 1.51pm at the airport.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has started an investigation into alleged irregularities, corruption and illegal amassing of assets by AKM Arif Uddin alias Arif Hasnat, Additional Director of Ports and Transport Department of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority. The anti-graft watchdog has formed a-two member inquiry committee headed by Deputy Director (investigation and inquiry-2) of the ACC Md. Hafizul Islam for fare . Another member of the team is its Assistant Director Subhash Chandra Majumder. This information was in a letter of the ACC written to the Director (Administration) of the BIWTA. The ACC’s letter, signed by ACC Deputy Director (investigation and inquiry-2) Md. Hafizul Islam, was issued on last September 3. In the letter, the ACC has asked for several important information about Narayanganj river port from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2022 and Dhaka river port (Sadarghat) from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022. New commissioner at Anti-Corruption Commission These include accounting records of revenue collections, documentary records of earned revenue deposited (including deposit slips) in the government treasury and bank statements for the specified period. Arif Uddin, currently posted at BIWTA's head office, was in charge of Dhaka and Narayanganj river ports at the time mentioned above. ACC's letter has sought details of salary and allowances drawn by Arif Uddin since joining BIWTA till June 30 this year and office orders related to the responsibilities assigned to him. ACC has also sought all records related to applications and approvals for holding business or shares in the names of Arif Uddin and his wife, children and brothers. The ACC’s letter said that a letter was sent to the BIWTA on August 3 this year seeking above information for the sake of the ongoing investigation. But the BIWTA has not given it. For this reason, the inquiry activities are being hampered, it said. Is our anti-corruption agency a cruel joke? According to the ACC, though another letter was sent to the Director (Admin) BIWTA on September 3, seeking the same information and documents by 10 am on September 8. However, it has been found that BIWTA has not sent any information to the ACC till writing this report. When contacted BIWTA Director (Administration) Wakil Nawaz told UNB that his office (BIWTA head office) did not receive any letter from the ACC, which was sent on August 3 last month. However, he acknowledged that his office has already received the second letter, which was sent on September 3. When he was asked why they (BIWTA) failed to provide the information to the ACC by September 8 this month, Wakil Newaz said he has been working on it and he hopes to provide the ACC required information very soon. Anti-Corruption Drive that raised hope in 2019 When contacted by UNB Arif Uddin denied the allegations, saying that couple of years ago same type of allegations were brought against him and finally nothing was found against him. After several years, someone brought the allegation to the ACC again against me. The ACC has been investigating the matter now. After completion of the ACC’s inquiry, the organization will take step as per its findings, said Arif, who has been also performing additional duty as Director (Land and Law) of the BIWTA.
The Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Tunnel, running beneath the Karnaphuli River in Chattogram, is now awaiting inauguration, with the primary construction phase successfully concluded. The main tunnel is fully equipped and prepared for vehicular movement. This historic project marks the country's first-ever underwater tunnel, and preparations for its grand inauguration are underway. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the tunnel in Chattogram on October 28. Marking the occasion, the prime minister will address a rally at the Anwara end of the tunnel. Also read: Uttara to Motijheel in 38 mins once part of Metro Rail from Agargaon opens on Oct 20 Commencing from the following day, the tunnel will be open for vehicular traffic, providing a significant transportation milestone for the region. In this regard, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said the primary construction phase of the tunnel has been successfully concluded. “Presently, the focus is on resolving technical matters within the tunnel. The inauguration of this remarkable project heralds Bangladesh's entry into the era of underwater tunnels,” said Quader. This ‘monumental achievement’ will usher in a new era of communication within the country, marking a source of immense national pride, he added. Also read: After 10 years of delay, Mongla-Khulna rail line likely to open in October The Bridges Division Secretary Md. Manzur Hossain told UNB that the primary tunnel is fully ready for vehicular traffic. “Ongoing efforts encompass various aspects, including the establishment of essential infrastructure such as fire service and police station buildings. The overall progress of the tunnel project stands at 98 percent,” he said. "Our activities will continue even after the inauguration. It has been discussed to establish a police station, a dumping area, and a station, and the space is available for that. Those who are involved in the operation and those who will perform maintenance will have their own vehicles," he added. The secretary said that the traffic division has devised a dedicated plan for managing the flow of traffic both within and around the tunnel area, aiming to ensure seamless transportation. Inside the tunnel, vehicles will be able to run at a speed of 80 kilometres per hour. It has been decided which vehicles will run in the tunnel. Tolls have also been fixed, said the Bridges secretary (see bolow). Also read: HSIA Terminal 3: Final preparations on course for Oct 7 inauguration “The concept of the tunnel is new to us. That's why it has some challenges. It is different from other bridges or roads. In that case, we have to make sure that the tunnel will be safe and those who use it will also be safe,” said Hossain, adding, “From that perspective, I don't think it's safe for two- or three-wheelers at the moment.” Harun-ur-Rashid, project director of the tunnel, told UNB that the scope of Chittagong city will increase once the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman tunnel is opened. "Chittagong city marks one end of the tunnel, while the other end leads to Anwara Upazila. The development of tunnels is transforming Anwara into a burgeoning city. Concurrently, the land prices in Anwara Upazila have seen a substantial increase." Numerous industries, both large and small, are emerging on both sides of the road leading to the tunnel's terminus in Anwara Upazila. When the tunnel becomes operational, it will reduce the Karnaphuli River crossing time to just three minutes. As time is of the essence, the economy is expected to thrive. The tunnel is poised to bring about a transformative change in road connectivity between the capital, Dhaka, and Chittagong city, as well as the tourist destination of Cox's Bazar. Also read: Dhaka-Bhanga railway track via Padma bridge all set for trial run on Thursday The main tunnel spans a length of 3.32 kilometres, with each of the two four-lane tubes measuring 2.45 kilometres. Additionally, there will be a 5.35 km link road at both the west and east ends of the main tunnel, along with a 727-metre-long flyover at the Anwara end. The tunnel is situated at a depth ranging from 18 to 31 metres beneath the Karnaphuli River. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina initiated the commencement of boring for the first or northern tunnel from Patenga to Anwara on February 24, 2019. The loan agreement had been signed on June 30, 2015, following a feasibility study of the project in 2011 and a Memorandum of Understanding in 2014. Construction work officially began on December 5, 2017, following the appointment of the contractor. This project is jointly funded by the Governments of Bangladesh and China (G2G), with a total cost of Tk 10,698 crore. The construction work for the tunnel is being carried out by the China Communication and Construction Company Limited (CCCC). The Government of Bangladesh is executing this project with the aim of creating a 'One City Two Towns' concept, similar to Shanghai in China, on either side of the Karnaphuli River. Also read: Elevated expressway marks first of 9 megaprojects to be inaugurated before election A total of 12 types of vehicles will be subject to toll charges when using the 3.43 km long Bangabandhu Tunnel. The minimum toll fee has been set at Tk200, applicable to private cars. Pickup trucks will also be charged Tk200 for each crossing, while microbuses will be charged Tk250. Buses with fewer than 31 seats will incur a toll of Tk300, while those with more than 32 seats will pay Tk400. Big buses with three axles will be charged a toll of Tk500. The toll for trucks capable of carrying goods up to five tonnes has been fixed at Tk400. Eight-ton trucks will have to pay Tk500 and 11-ton trucks will have to pay Tk600. A three-axle container trailer will cost Tk800. A four-axle trailer will cost Tk1,000. However, an additional Tk200 will have to be paid for each additional axle. The toll rate will come into effect on the day the tunnel is opened for vehicular movement. Read more: Toll rates fixed for Karnaphuli tunnel
Full transcript of UNB’s email interview with Michael Kugelman (MK), director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, in the wake of the US announcing it was taking steps to impose the first batch of visa restrictions on Bangladeshi law enforcement officials, and members of the ruling party and political opposition: UNB: First of all, what do you make of the timing? There was an impression earlier that these restrictions would most likely be imposed after the election, as they were in the case of Nicaragua and Zimbabwe. What do you think Washington is trying to signal by coming out 3 months prior and announcing the first restrictions? Is it dissatisfaction with how the overall preparations are going? MK: I think the US wanted to act proactively, to send a tough message. In effect: This is important to us, we mean business, we want that free and fair election, and here's what we'll do in the weeks leading up to it when we see someone trying to imperil that outcome. Keep in mind that the Biden administration genuinely wants a close relationship with Dhaka, and so it doesn't want to be in the tough position of having to decide whether to review the future of the relationship if the election is deemed to be unfree and unfair. For Washington, the goal is to give the full Bangladesh state—the political class, law enforcement, media, business leaders, and so on—the strongest possible incentive to ensure a free and fair election, so that the US doesn't have to make that difficult decision. Read: Visa restrictions imposed upon 'careful review of evidence': US embassy UNB: Although US law doesn't allow it, to the extent that we're allowed to speculate, do you think there are some really big fish that would have come under the restrictions? Without them it may be futile don't you think? MK: I don't know the identities of the people targeted, though indeed a stronger message would be sent if some big fish were among them. UNB: Visa restrictions are not the same of course, as Magnitsky sanctions. Do you think these individuals, whoever they are, should now worry that they might be brought under Magnitsky, say if they turn out to be repeat offenders in the days ahead? MK: I think this depends on who the people are that were targeted. If some of those targeted are business leaders and others that depend on transactions with the US, then one can't rule out Magnitsky. That said, as I understand them, these visa restriction policies are specific in scope and don't stipulate—at least not publicly—that they could expand into wider restrictions that would encompass Magnitsky. Read: US taking steps to impose first batch of visa restrictions UNB: A US delegation is due next month to assess the situation on the ground for an observer mission during the election. The EU has already said it won't send observers after its own team came and assessed the conditions. How much of a blow do you think it would be if the US also says no? Do you see a 'No' as a rejection of the process? MK: A decision not to send observers can be spun differently depending on where you sit politically. Certainly, for the opposition and other government critics, not sending observers can be pointed to as an indication of the international community having lost faith in the idea of a free and fair election and not wanting to be part of an electoral process that it feels is destined to fail. But the government could spin it as a success, that the international community must be sufficiently confident about the election being free and fair if it has no need to have observers in place. Read: 'Nothing to lose' from visa restrictions: Shahriar Alam UNB: Finally, do you see the possibility of wider sanctions on say trade or other things, depending on the quality of the election? MK: I do think the administration will review the future of the relationship if the election is deemed to be rigged. This could result in a decision to downgrade some aspects of the relationship, and possibly new sanctions. But the administration will need to be careful. It truly values its partnership with Bangladesh, which has grown in recent years, especially on the trade side. And against the backdrop of rapidly intensifying great power competition, Bangladesh, as a non-aligned state sitting astride the Indian Ocean, has great strategic importance for Washington. There are also influential actors, like the US-Bangladesh Business Council, which would likely push back against trade sanctions and any plan to rein in commercial relations. So the US would need to be cautious in its approach. Read more: A big moment for Bangladesh and its relations with US: South Asia specialist
Bangladesh needs multiple choices for better bargaining in foreign financial proposals: Japanese expert
Bangladesh needs to have more choices in terms of any proposal, specially financial proposals that will give it a better bargaining point, according to a Japanese expert. “We have to be very robust in creating such proposals to make Bangladesh have much more free choices. It is better if you have two or more choices. In fact we both need to have more choices,” Dr Ken Jimbo, Managing Director, International House of Japan and Professor of Keio University told UNB in an interview recently. Highlighting Japan’s new plan for Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), he said Japan is offering 51 items without any condition attached and Bangladesh can pick and choose which is attractive. The Japanese expert who served as Special Advisor to the Minister of Defense Taro Kono, Japan Ministry of Defense (2020) and Senior Advisor, the National Security Secretariat (2018-20) said they are happy to consider Chinese proposals if those are rule-based and in line with international standards. “If there is one proposal on the project finance coming from China which is very attractive and there is no alternative proposal to be made by Japan or any other countries, Bangladesh may have no choice but to take Chinese money,” he mentioned. Read: PM urges JICA to allow farmers to use wastage of sea water in the desalination project at Matarbari
The trial run of a train on Dohazari-Cox's Bazar route is expected to be conducted on October 15 as 92 percent work on the railway route has been completed, said the project director. The trial run of the train will be conducted in presence of Railway Minister Md Nurul Islam Sujon, Mafizur Rahman, director of Dohazari--Cox's Bazar rail project told UNB on Thursday. The construction work of an iconic rail station, culvert, level crossing and highway crossing is almost finished, he said. The 102 kilometer Dohazari-Cox's Bazar rail project is almost finished and now it is ready for train movement, said Mafizur Rahman. “Already all preparations have been taken to conduct a trial run on the route and a locomotive with six bogies will run on the route first. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the rail route at the end of October. Later, the residents of Dhaka will enjoy the Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar rail route later,” he said. Read more: After 10 years of delay, Mongla-Khulna rail line likely to open in October According to the project officials, under the project a 102-km new dual gauge single railway line from Dohazari to Cox's Bazar has been built at a cost of Tk 18,000 crore. Already an Oyster-shaped international standard railway station has been built in Cox’s Bazar town and seven more stations from Dohazari to Cox’s Bazar were built while an overpass was also constructed to facilitate the movement of elephants and other wild animals as the rail line crosses a reserved forest area, said the project director. Besides, the repair work of the 450 meters of the trail tracks which was damaged due to the recent floods was done, he said. Rezaul Karim, president of Cox’s Bazar Tourist Traders Association, said the number of tourists could increase by three times with the launching of the rail route. Zahidul Islam, a resident of Cox’s Bazar, said the residents of the district have been deprived of the train services for long but the Dohazari-Cox's Bazar project will make their dream come true. Read more: Uttara to Motijheel in 38 mins once part of Metro Rail from Agargaon opens on Oct 20 Mohammad Shaheen Imran, deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar, said the project work is almost finished and if everything remains okay the trail run of train on the rail route will be conducted on October 15. 8 rail stations According to the project officials, there are eight stations along the 102-km railway including at Satkania, Lohagara, Chakaria, Dulahazara, Eidgaon, Ramu and Cox's Bazar Sadar. To facilitate this, three big bridges have been constructed on Sangu, Matamuhuri and Bakkhali rivers. Besides, 43 small bridges, 201 culverts and 144 level crossings have been constructed on the railway. A flyover was constructed in Keochia area of Satkania, and two highway crossings in Ramu and Cox's Bazar areas. An overpass of 50 metres and three underpasses were constructed for the movement of elephants and other wildlife. Dhaka-Cox's Bazar train service still a distant reality as project limps along
The government has initiated a move to gradually upgrade the existing conventional grid system to a “Smart Grid” within the next few years. As part of the move, initially the smart grid system will be established under the Power Grid Company of Bangladesh (PGCB) and Dhaka Power Distribution Company Limited (DPDC). Read: Smart Grid: Power Cell to get $1.5mn assistance from US According to official sources, Power Cell, a technical wing of the Power Division under the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, has already appointed the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a US-based consulting firm, to conduct a survey to assess the current state of the national grid and connected utilities and also identify needs for the new system. BCG already submitted a report titled: “Technical Assistance for the Smart Grid Roadmap for Bangladesh Power Utilities”. The BGC conducted the survey under financial support of the US Trade and Development Agency and as a follow-up, the USTDA signed an agreement with Power Cell on June 1 to provide $2 million as grant for the next survey and technical assistance. Read: Exploring Smart Grid to shape future of sustainable energy: Seminar with DPDC held at UIU Power Cell officials said under the agreement, BCG will conduct a more comprehensive and detailed study of the overall power system, as well as of all power utilities, assessing their technical and financial needs. “Actually, a US consulting firm will prepare a roadmap to convert the overall system into a smart grid system where everything will be operated digitally and an automated system will be established replacing the existing manual system,” Mohammad Hossain, director general of Power Cell, told UNB. According to the Power Division’s official statistics, as of September 13, 2023, the country's power generation capacity was 27,834 MW including off-grid renewable and captive power, while the highest generated in a day was 15,648 MW. The length of transmission lines is 14,934 circuit kilometres, there are 63,895 grid substations, and the length of distribution lines is 643,000 km. The total number of consumers is 45.4 million (4.54 crore) and system loss is 7.65 percent. The government set a target to increase the power generation capacity to 40,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2041. Read: Kuwait launches smart grid exhibition to save power Officials said the government has taken the move to establish the smart grid in order to properly manage the burgeoning system, which has been growing fast on the back of strong economic growth. They said the consulting firm BCG will submit its next report in December, based on which the PGCB and DPDC will undertake pilot projects to implement the smart grid system. Meanwhile, in the report submitted with the initial survey, BGC identified cyber security as a core area where power utilities including the PGCB are lagging behind in ensuring grid security and stability. It identified eight core challenges and 28 technology solutions and initiatives to implement a roadmap for establishing the Smart Grid, while 15 challenges have been identified for the distribution segment of the power sector. The core challenges have been identified as power interruptions, inconsistent power quality, manual operation and limited visibility of assets, increasing variability of supply, improving billing efficiency and reducing non-technical loss, improved customer satisfaction, lack of electric vehicle charging points and incomplete revenue realisation. BCG also identified five challenges for the transmission segment of the power sector, namely high frequency loss, rising transmission loss, manual operation of grid assets and reactive VAR (Volt-Amps Reactive) management. Lastly two challenges have been identified for the generation segment of the sector: high frequency variation and power interruption.
The 50-meter bridge over Berubari canal in Nageshwari upazila of Kurigram district has become a death trap for people of six villages over the past seven years due to its vulnerable state, thanks to the negligence of the authorities. The Berubari Bridge remains dilapidated since 2016 as a part of it collapsed due to flood and earthquake, causing immense sufferings to residents of the six villages who have to use it. No ambulance can cross the bridge to take patients to the local health establishments. No initiative has taken yet regarding the issue, despite locals complaining several times. Locals also demand a concrete bridge over the canal for easier commuting. Stop construction of bridges on 6 rivers in Jashore: National Committee to protect shipping, roads The bridge was built over Berubari canal during the Pakistan era, and since then no renovation work has been carried out. In 2016, a 20-meter long area on the west side and 10-meter area on the east side of the bridge caved in during an earthquake, making it unfit for crossing over. Besides, a part of the bridge collapsed after being hit by a tractor in the same year. As a result, thousands of people living in the Berubari union fail to use the bridge. In 2017, locals with the help of the union parishad constructed a bamboo bridge over the canal but it is also in poor condition. 50 years without a concrete bridge! Besides, a major part of the bridge has collapsed during the recent flood, posing a serious threat. Over 7,000 people of Hazipara, Sarkarpara, Mandalpara, Mirarbhata, Char Berubari, Char Shalmara, Akandpara and Berubari union are now crossing the bridge, putting their lives at risk every day, as they have to go to schools, businesses, and local markets. Solaiman Ali, chairman of Berubari union, said they have sent letters demanding repair of the bridge several times but no initiative has been taken yet. Lives of 3 lakh locals to see a major shift thanks to bridge over Boaljhuri canal in Chandpur Md Masuduzzaman, executive engineer of Kurigram Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED), said the local LGED officers visited the bridge and a proposal has already been sent to the authorities concerned.