Around 100 shanties and small makeshift shops were destroyed in a fire which originated at the ‘Sattola Bosti’ in Dhaka’s Mohakhali on late Monday night.
The fire, which occurred at around 11:45pm, was brought under control at around 00:55am, Duty Officer of fire service headquarters control room Mahfus Riven told UNB.
It took 12 firefighting units to extinguish the flame at around 2:55am, he said adding that at least 98 semi-pucca shanties and small makeshift shops were gutted in the incident.
The cause of the fire and extent of damage could not be known immediately. However, no casualty was reported, the fire service officer said.
Photos and footages from the site during the fire incident showed the area covered in thick black smoke as volunteers and firefighters scrambled to extinguish the pockets of flames.
Once the fire was put out, the scale of devastation started becoming clear.
Fires at slums in Dhaka, home to many low-income people, are quite common and leave thousands of their residents homeless.
According to data compiled by Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence, there were 174 fire incidents at slums in Dhaka, Chattogram and Rangpur last year.
Dhaka is home to 21 million people – most of whom live below the poverty line.
Also, many floating people are coming to and going out of the city every day. So giving cash support to the Covid-19 hit people of the capital through mobile financial services will create a mismatch.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said this on Monday while inaugurating the "Humanitarian Support for Covid-19" at Nagar Bhaban.
Bangladesh Red Crescent Society and German Red Cross organized it.
And 12,000 families will get a cash grant of Tk5,000 through mobile financial services, Bangladesh Red Crescent Society said.
While welcoming the move, Taposh said only the residents of Dhaka city are supposed to be beneficiaries of this program. So, it will have to be made sure that the people in real need get support, not the floating ones.
Nearly every Dhaka residents has a bank account. "So I would request the organizers to consider whether the banks can be involved in the cash grant distribution program."
Information Minister Hasan Mahmud on Monday lauded journalists as ‘fearless warriors’ for working through the coronavirus pandemic ignoring risks to their lives.
“The way journalists have been working with courage since the coronavirus outbreak is very praiseworthy,” he said while inaugurating a three-day exhibition at the Broadcast Journalists Centre in Dhaka.
“I didn’t see any journalist sitting at home in fear. Some of my close journalist friends also died [of Covid-19],” the minister said.
He noted that 37 journalists died of coronavirus and several hundred others were infected during work.
Mahmud praised the mainstream media and journalists for providing people with the right news during the pandemic and taking a stance against attempts to manipulate the crisis, particularly on social media.
He lauded BJC and other journalists’ organisations for standing by mediapersons during the pandemic. Mahmud noted that the government had extended financial assistance at the order of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through the Journalist Welfare Trust to scribes who had been laid off.
Mahmud said the laying off of journalists by some media houses during this crisis was “very unfortunate”.
“We’ve provided one-time financial aid to journalists who had been laid off and those who were not paid in months. The assistance is still on,” the minister said, requesting BJC to provide the government with a list of journalists in need if they have any.
He said the government would enact the Media Workers Law soon to safeguard the jobs and resolve the problems of journalists.
At the programme, Renowned artists Shahabuddin Ahmed and Gulshan Hossain, joined the programme online. It was presided over by BJC Trustee President Syed Ishtiaq Reza.
The exhibition features some paintings and photographs showing the struggles and woes of journalists during the pandemic. Renowned artists Shahabuddin , Md Moniruzzaman, Gulshan Hossain, Tahmina Hafiz Lisa and Nasir Ali Mamun took part in the exhibition, along with several photographers.
‘Coronay Gonomaddhomer Lorai’ will remain open from 10am to 5pm until Nov 25.
Overhead power lines and cobweb of cables, an eyesore in Dhaka and other major cities, are yet to be shifted underground despite assurances and promises by the authorities concerned.
Both Dhaka north and south mayors as well as State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid have been saying for long that cables would go underground but there seems to have been little progress.
Nasrul on Monday said the work would be done within the next four years, one year less than the time limit had spoken about in early February 2020.
“The work on underground cabling has already started and it’s now in progress in Dhanmondi area of the city,” he said while inaugurating the installation of 5kW vertical wind turbine -ONUVA- on the campus of Bangladesh University of Professional (BUP) in the city.
In February, Nasrul said the move was “not only for beautification but also for ensuring uninterrupted and secured power supply”.
State-owned Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and Australian firm Energy Tron R&D KIS Group signed a contract for a Tk 25.3 crore job of taking overhead electric cables underground in Sylhet, Cumilla, Chattogram and Mymensingh.
Making Dhaka free of overhead cables
In January, parts of the Sylhet City Corporation became free of overhead cables after an underground electricity transmission system was introduced.
But things have not been so rosy in the overcrowded capital city where precariously dangling overhead cables – electricity, internet and dish TV lines – remain a common sight.
Although the city corporations operated drives to remove the cables, they are yet to see any success. The overhead cable reappeared within a few days after the mobile courts finished their drives.
After meeting leaders of Internet Service Providers Association of Bangladesh (ISPAB) and Cable Operators Association of Bangladesh (COAB) last month, Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh said they reached a consensus over taking all overhead cables underground by November.
“We want to make Dhaka free of overhead cables,” he said, adding that the city corporation would extend all necessary cooperation to ISPAB and COAB.
Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Atiqul Islam, on the other hand, said the cables would be taken underground in phases.
In January, UNB ran a report on a committee formed by the Power Division identifying conflicts among the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) and internet service providers (ISPs) as a major roadblock to the government’s efforts to free the city of dangling cables.
Sources said the Power Division’s move is part of the government plan to take underground all kinds of overhead cables within the next few years. They said DPDC and Desco, engaged in power distribution in the city, had undertaken a project to shift their overhead electric cables underground in Dhanmondi and Gulshan.
Green energy potential
State Minister Nasrul on Monday said transparency in power and energy sector would be strengthened through introducing modern technologies, including smart grid and smart metres.
He also noted that the government had been providing incentives to promote renewable energy across the country.
Nasrul mentioned that wind mapping was conducted between 2014 and 2017 at different places across the country.
“The wind speed was found to be 5.75 to 6.25 metres per second which could generate about 20,000MW wind power in the country,” he said.
State Minister Nasrul said the DNCC has undertaken a 45MW waste to energy plant to produce electricity from garbage.
Another 6MW waste to energy plant will be set up in the Narayanganj City Corporation area. A proposal was sent to the Cabinet Committee on Public Purchase for approval.
On the other hand, he said, different projects of a total capacity of 1,570MW was approved to set up solar power plants.
Vice-Chancellor of BUP Major General Ataul Hakim Sarwar Hassan also addressed the function on Monday.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has asked the government for details on houses owned by public servants in Canada's "Begum Para."
ACC Secretary Dilwar Bakht said this to the reporters at the anticorruption watchdog's office on Monday.
Earlier, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen talked about the capital flight from Bangladesh to Toronto's Begum Para.
Dilwar said, "We are investigating the issue of 28 houses owned by government officials in Begum Para and have asked the government for a list."
"We will start working on it when the list is available."
On November 18, the foreign minister talked about 28 money laundering cases in this connection at a program of the Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
"I thought the number of politicians would be higher, but there were only four of them and a few businessmen. The majority was government officials."