<%-- Page Title--%> News Notes <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 133 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

December 12, 2003

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A Day without Gas

Residents of Gulshan and a few other nearby houses got a rude shock on December 2, when they tried to turn on their gas ovens. Gas had been switched off and many people were completely unaware that this was a deliberate move by Petrobangla. Apparently the supply of gas had been snapped off for 'maintenance work' before winter. Areas that were targeted, apart from Gulshan, included Banani, Badda, Ananda Nagar, Post Office Road, Rampura, Tejgaon, Mohakhali, Moghbazar, Malibagh and Khilgaon. Cooking was stalled the whole day with people making last minute alternative arrangements such as going to relatives' houses where there was gas or buying food from outside.

But it was not just what to eat that people were worried about. Commuters went through hell as there were very few gas-fried three-wheelers and taxis on the streets. With only three dozen gas stations around, CNG-run vehicles queued up for hours.

But the Petrobangla officials remained unmoved. They said that such suffering would 'pay dividend during the winter'. He explained that every winter, Dhaka experiences low gas pressure because a gas by-product called 'condensate' accumulates in the pipeline in low temperature, which reduces gas supplies.

Meanwhile the official said, a new gas pipeline between Demra and Gulshan has been installed to avert the low gas pressure problem. Gas supplies had to be suspended in certain areas to install a device at the two ends of the pipeline.

Thankfully, the gas was back the next day.

Actions needed, not words

The country seems to be in an arms cache spree. There have been three record--making ammo haul in as many months recently--from Bogra via Khagrachhari, now it is right in the heart of Dhaka. The home minister, who always has something precious to reveal, almost immediately pointed fingers to the “so-called third-force,” behind this arms dealing. Unfortunately, even after a week they haven't yet made any breakthrough in the case. It seems all falling in the same pattern, a rewind of the same events--arms haul or a sensational murder, immediately followed by all-knowing HM's instant revelation of the secret, and finally police failure to make any headway (even after more than three months the Bogra arms haul remains shrouded with mysteries).

HM's almost irresistible tendency of indulging into stunning public comments might very well prejudice the inquiry process. One wonders if he does it to deliberately mislead the investigation procedure or he does it impulsively. Whatever the case is, what we need now from our HM is action not words.

Ka to Calamity

The first reaction to Taslima Nasrin's much controversial book, Ka, was restlessness. As the dawn of the day broke, an army of leading writers picked up the phone and started badgering the editors of the leading dailies. One went far enough; this eminent writer was seen live in action, in the office of a local daily, to patch up the whole affair. Another writer, Syed Shamsul Haq, filed a lawsuit for defamation and plead to ban the book. Ka was banned, but the price of beleaguered Ka skyrocketed by then, and the Xerox shops in the city are seen making a brisk business out of the whole affair.

West Bengal government followed the footsteps of its Bangladeshi counterpart and banned Ka's Kolkata version Dikhondito. Taslima is reported to have planned to write another book about her paramour with the West Bengal authors. Some of them are said to be consulting their lawyers in advance. Taslima, with her record in writing highest number of banned books, remains unfazed.

CHT Crisis--Playing with Fire

In politics, the party in power takes an attitude of terming everything that they inherit from their previous incumbent--'bad' . The BNP-led Four Party Alliance government's utter indifference to realising the CHT Treaty seems to stem from the fact that the treaty was struck by the AL government. And it doesn't bode well for the nation--after six years of relative lull, the Chittagong Hill Tracts now stands close to a revival of insurgency. The warning came from Chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Jyotrindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Shantu Larma at a roundtable on December 1 at the CIRDAP auditorium. Larma also accused the government of creating a divide among the people by pitting the Bangali settlers against the indigenous people. One hopes the government would immediately set itself to implementing the peace pact before adivasi peoples vent their frustration and anger by once again taking up arms.

An Exam Botched up

Around 47,000 BCS examinees who vied for 4,500 posts in the cadre service were surprised to see their General Bangla question-paper. The “ leaked” question-paper most of them got long before the exam didn't match with the real one.

But, the questions the Public Service Commission (PSC) asked has aroused the suspicion of many. “From the Bangla question-paper it is quite clear that, it was originally leaked; after several newspapers had published it, it seems, the PSC had changed it right before the exam,” says Mustafizur Rahman, an examinee. Proof: PSC asked students Grade 5 questions. “Probably someone in the PSC has made the Bangla question-paper from his child's Bangla book at the dead of the night,” Mustafiz continues.

Early this year the BCS preliminary test was dogged by several scams. The PSC cancelled the 24th BCS preliminary test over allegations of question leaks, and held the test again on August 8 amid the same allegations.

But how the PSC will choose the lucky 4,500 among these 47,000, is something the examinees have been asking themselves. Some have the answer, “Lottery perhaps,” says Rahman with a smile.

Died. Ahmedul Kabir, Chief Editor of Bangla Daily Sangbad and president of Gonotontry Party. Kabir was born on February 3, 1923 to a zamindar family in Palash, Narsingdy. As a student Kabir was drawn to politics and became the first elected vice-president of Dhaka University Central Students' Union in 1945. Later, he was elected to the then East Pakistan legislative Assembly in 1965; in independent Bangladesh, he was elected to the Jatya Sangsad in 1979 and 1986 as an independent candidate. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons.

Frightening Numbers

1300 Number of HIV infected people in the country. But “The actual number will be much more, taking those who are yet to be diagnosed,” said MA Hadi, vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, on the World Aids day.


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