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
Actions needed, not words
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
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
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
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.
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.
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