Archive for: January 2011

Changing Dhaka's water supply

Ref: Water supply to Dhaka will undergo a major shift over the next decade, moving from dependence on dwindling groundwater to surface water, officials have said.Speaking to reporters on Monday, Managing Director of Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) Taqsem A Khan said the city faced an urgent need to reduce its dependency on groundwater.”Ecologically it is not viable to rely on groundwater always,” he said.With the current level of extraction, groundwater levels are dropping around 3 metres a year, raising the threat of landslides and disrupting the ecological balance.At present, 87 percent of Dhaka’s total water supply comes from underground sources, Khan said.WASA is planning to reduce this to 30 percent over the next 10 years, increasing the use of surface water to 70 percent, he said.Long-term planning includes bringing the second and third phases of the Sayedabad water treatment plant online, eventually providing more than 800 million litres of water.

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MUNSHIGANJ CLASH: Traffic resumes after 9hrs

Ref: Traffic on Dhaka-Mawa highway has resumed, nine hours after protestors took to the street at Srinagar Bazaar protesting the proposed Bangabandhu International Airport in the area.Munshiganj police superintendent Shafiqul Islam confirmed bdnews24.com that vehicular movement on the road returned to normal around 4pm on Monday.Locals began demonstration in response to a call by Arrial Beel Protection Committee and blocked the highway around 7am, halting long-distance traffic.The violent clash that erupted between police and demonstrators left at least one policeman dead and another 42 people injured, including four policemen.The demonstrators have been demanding that the airport project site be relocated from the district, claiming that thousands of people would be left unemployed if the project is implemented.Around 11,250 acres of land is needed for the project estimated to cost Tk 500 billion. Dhaka and Munshiganj districts administrations have been assigned to acquire the land stretching into Munshiganj’s Sreenagar Upazila and Dhaka’s Nababganj and Dohar Upazilas.

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Metro-rail route changed slightly: Communications Minister

Ref: The route of the proposed metro rail has been slightly changed to leave out Dhaka University campus following objection from the DU authorities, as the 21.5-kilometer railroad would be mostly built with over-ground tracks under a modified design.Now the route of the proposed metro railway will bypass the DU central library and pass by the three leaders’ tomb, as the Central Shaheed Minar and a female hall of the university students fall along the originally planned
way.Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain Monday disclosed the redesigned route while talking to journalists after a meeting with a delegation of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) led by Tomohide Ichiguchi, director at Tokyo Headquarters, at the ministry.

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Syedi, Mahmudur shifted to Gazipur jail

Ref: Former MP and Jamaat-e-Islami central leader Delwar Hossain Sayeedi was transferred to Gazipur district jail from Manikganj jail on Sunday midnight, prison sourcessaid.Earlier in the day, acting editor of the Amar Desh Mahmudur Rahman was also brought to Gazipur district jail from Kashimpur, the sources added.Both are facing a plethora of cases, and the former also detained for standing trial on war-crime charges for his role in the 1971 liberation war.

Obama presses Mubarak for transition to democracy

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President Barack Obama on Sunday urged an “orderly transition” to democracy in Egypt, stopping short of calling on President Hosni Mubarak to step down but signaling that his days may be numbered.

Seeking to ratchet up pressure on Mubarak, Obama consulted with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and Britain on the need for an Egyptian government responsive to its people.

The Obama administration’s blunt words marked the furthest Washington has distanced itself from Mubarak, a key U.S. ally of 30 years who has been severely weakened by six days of mass protest aimed at ending his long autocratic rule.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also kept up Washington’s delicate balancing act, trying to avoid abandoning Mubarak altogether while supporting protesters who seek broader political rights and demand his ouster.

Making the rounds the Sunday U.S. news shows, Clinton said Mubarak must ensure coming elections are free and fair and live up to his promises of reform, and that the process should be carried out to prevent a power vacuum that could be filled by extremists.

While Clinton repeatedly dodged questions about whether Mubarak should resign due to the political upheaval, she appeared to suggest the U.S. administration’s patience with him was wearing thin and added to pressure on him to loosen — if not eventually relinquish — his grip on power.
“We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there not be a void, that there be a well thought out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government,” Clinton told “Fox News Sunday” on the sixth day of mass protests against Mubarak’s rule.

Echoing Clinton’s language, the White House said Obama spoke over the weekend to Saudi King Abdullah, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British Prime Minister David Cameron’

“The president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” the White House said.

A senior administration official said the feeling among Obama’s national security aides was that Mubarak’s time had passed, but that it was up to the Egyptian people to decide their future. Obama believed the United States could not insert itself into the situation because any such move could backfire, the official added.

RISK OF POWER VACUUM

Clinton also alluded to concerns about who might follow Mubarak. U.S. officials have privately voiced fears that radical Muslims could take power. “We also don’t want to see some takeover that would lead not to democracy, but to oppression,” she said.

Even as Washington has taken a more assertive stance, Clinton signaled the administration was not ready to use its most tangible leverage with Cairo — the $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid, the vast majority of which is for the military.

“There is no discussion as of this time about cutting off aid,” she told ABC’s “This Week,” though she quickly added “we always are looking (at) and reviewing our aid.”

The U.S. administration was caught off guard by the political upheaval that has rocked the Middle East in recent days, from Egypt to Tunisia to Lebanon to Yemen, and is now scrambling to craft a sound strategy.

Attaining power, food security in Bangladesh: Kuwait Fund to provide Tk 441cr funds

Ref:
Kuwait Fund of the gulf country will provide Bangladesh Tk 441 crore as funds for implementing development schemes aimed at attaining power and food security.

An agreement to this effect was signed between the Bangladesh government and the aid agency of Kuwait at the Economic Relations Division Sunday. Read more →

Thousands greet Tunisian Islamist leader`s return

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Tunisian Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi returned to his homeland after more than 20 years in exile on Sunday, eyeing a political future for his Ennahda movement after the fall of Tunisia`s regime.

“God is great!” he cried out, raising his arms in triumph as he walked into the arrivals hall of Tunis airport, with thousands of supporters crowding around him saying they were afraid he could be arrested by the police. Read more →

Mubarak has not done nearly enough: Clinton

Ref: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has not done nearly enough yet to answer his people`s concerns, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday, calling for an “orderly transition” to democracy.Asked if Mubarak had taken sufficient steps to defusing Egypt`s worst crisis in decades by appointing military intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his first-ever vice president and also naming a new premier, Clinton told ABC: “Of course not.””That is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we`ve been urging.”Clinton said the United States was hoping for “real democracy” in Egypt and in later interviews with CBS and CNN urged Mubarak to pursue a “national dialogue” that could lead there.

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Accommodative monetary policy announced

Ref: Bangladesh Bank Sunday announced an accommodative monetary policy for the country for the last half of the current fiscal year (January-June) with its focus on spurring investment and productive activities to cope with swelling inflation.Apart from giving directions on boosting industrial and agricultural production, the central bank strategic guideline also emphasized proper management of the banking sector as a measure for stabilizing the wayward market that made food costlier for the people.However, while announcing the half-yearly monetary policy, Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman ruled out any possibility of early reduction in the high level of food inflation rather predicted non-food inflation, too, in the future.

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Bangladeshi peacekeeper killed in Sudan

Ref: A Bangladeshi peacekeeper in Sudan, Capt Mohammad Iftekhar Alam, has been killed and three others, including another Bangladeshi, injured in a road crash, according to an Inter-Service Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) statement.The statement said the road crash occurred when a jeep carrying the four peacekeepers, including Alam and Capt Fakrul, rolled down on its way from Maradi to Yambio around 1:45pm (BDst) on Sunday.They were brought to Bangladesh’s level-2 hospital at Juba where the duty doctor declared Alam dead.