Parties unwilling to sit with EC with ban on politics
The Election Commission's (EC) initiative to hold dialogue with the political parties on proposed electoral reforms has apparently failed due to the parties' unwillingness to sit in such dialogue amid the embargo on indoor politics. "We are to wait for lifting of the embargo on indoor politics," Election Commissioner Muhammed Sohul Hussain told reporters at his office. The EC last week announced that any political parties could sit with the EC to discuss the draft proposals for electoral reforms by sending representatives despite the embargo on indoor politics. Law and Information Adviser Mainul Hosein ay reiterated the government's 'no objection' if the political parties discuss with the EC on the proposed electoral reforms. But no political parties, not even the name-only ones, expressed interest in sitting for dialogue with the EC amid the embargo on indoor politics, EC sources said. "We want to hold discussion with the political parties. But so far we know none of the political parties want to sit in dialogue so long as the embargo on indoor politics remains effective," the election commissioner said. --The Daily Star, July 2.
Over 200 hill plunderers identified in Chittagong
Department of Environment (DoE) has primarily identified 155 hilly areas in Chittagong Division that were subjected to illegal hill cutting, and listed over 200 individuals, organisations and business groups as plunderers of hills. Former fisheries and livestock minister Abdullah Al Noman and detained Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury, Chittagong City Corporation (CCC), Kafco and KEPZ and Abul Khair Group are on the DoE list. The list is based on information collected by seven DoE teams through field visits in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and the three hill districts of Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban, DoE Director Nazmul Hoque told The Daily Star. They might finalise the list today and send it to the Ministry of Environment. The DoE director said they would continue mobile court drives in the affected areas and take legal action against all those responsible for hill cutting. In the port city, hills were devoured for setting up housing projects, brickfields, hospitals and other establishments in around 48 areas. Fifty people and thirteen organisations and commercial firms were involved in the evil practice. The DoE teams detected 27 incidents of hill cutting in Sitakunda, 16 in Satkania, 14 in Rangunia and Chandroghona, 14 in Hathazari, 4 in Chandanaish, 5 in Anwara, 5 in Banskhali, 2 in Mirsarai, 4 in Lohagara and 7 in Cox's Bazar, 5 in Rangamati and 4 in Khagrachhari, DOE sources said. --The Daily Star, July 3.
Govt to show zero tolerance for illegal tree felling: CA
Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed said the government will show "zero-tolerance" to stopping indiscriminate felling of trees and destruction of forests in the country. Referring to the arrest of some top forest officials on charges of corruption, he asked the officials and employees concerned to remain 100 per cent accountable in conserving trees and forests to avert such action. "Stern legal actions will be taken if any official and employee's negligence is proved in protecting trees and forest resources," he warned. The CA made the remarks while speaking at a function on the closing of the month-long countrywide National Tree Fair 2007 at Osmani Memorial Auditorium. A total of 48 individuals and institutions in 16 categories were given Chief Adviser's National Award 2006 in Tree Plantation while one individual got a special award for outstanding performance in tree planting. The CA distributed the award among the first-position holder in each category and the special award to Kartik Pramanik of Chapainawabganj. Environment and Forest Adviser CS Karim presided over the function. Acting Secretary of the Environment Ministry AHM Rezaul Kabir delivered the address of welcome. The head of the caretaker government said if necessary, the existing laws will be amended to make tougher provision to protect trees and forests. -- Unb, Dhaka, July 3.
CHT district councils may be restructured
The caretaker government is going to bring changes in the three Hill District Councils (HDC) formed by the past four-party alliance government, sources in the CHT affairs ministry said.The newly selected chairmen and councillors of the district councils may take over within a couple of days, added the sources. However, the Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari district councils did not receive official orders as of yesterday, officials of the HDCs said. Fax messages from the ministry regarding the changes are being expected within 2/3 days. Rangamati and Bandarban district councils have been dissolved entirely while Khagrachhari district councillors have been replaced and its chairman retained, a source in the CHT affairs ministry said. The ministry sources said retired chief engineer of Public Works Department (PWD) Jagat Jyoti Chakma and Prof (retd) Thanjama Lusai have been made chairmen of Rangamati and Bandarban district councils. Monindra Lal Tripura is to remain chairman of Khagrachhari district council. -- The Daily Star, July 4.
EC plans dialogue barring small parties
The Election Commission (EC) this time plans to keep in-name-only political parties out of the talks on its proposals for electoral reforms. It might invite around 20 political parties to the dialogue and most of those would be selected using the criteria set [in the draft proposals] for registration, said sources in the EC Secretariat. To be registered with the commission, a political party must have representation in any of the parliaments since 1973 or offices in at least half of the existing 64 administrative districts. "Political parties that are fit for registration with the commission will be given priority," Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain told reporters at his office. Only later could some other political parties be allowed to express their opinion on the proposed electoral reforms, he added. The immediate past EC led by Justice MA Aziz had invited 116 political parties including a large number of organisations in name only to a dialogue on the preparation of the voter list in 2005. Excepting the then ruling four parties including the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami, most of the major political parties boycotted the series of discussions that turned out to be a complete farce. -- The Daily Star, July 4.
Mannan Bhuiyan sued for illegal land registration
A case has been filed against BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and four others with a local court for having 10 acres of land registered illegally. According to the first information report (FIR), Bhuiyan, a former LGRD and cooperatives minister, had the land in his name to set up an office for BNP at Badarkhali in Chakoria in 2002. Badarkhali Krishi Uponibesh Samabay Samity owns the land where the then ruling party built the office at a cost of Tk 10 lakh in 2003, it added. Moulavi Abdur Rahman and Kafil Uddin, members of the Samity, filed the case on May 4. They alleged that Salauddin Ahmed, former state minister for communications now on detention, assisted the BNP general secretary in the act violating the cooperative law. Bhuiyan was aided and abetted also by the then president and general secretary of the Samity. The complainants said the accused have been pressing them to withdraw the case since its filing. Meanwhile, UNB reports that separate extortion cases were filed yesterday against former BNP lawmakers MAH Salim in Bagerhat and Sardar Shakhawat Hossain Bakul in Narsingdi. Razia Makbul, a health worker, filed the case against Salim and six BNP leaders and workers with Kochua Police Station. With this, 12 cases have been filed against Salim on charges of extortion and land-grab.-- The Daily Star, July 4.
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