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     Volume 9 Issue 39| October 08, 2010 |

 Cover Story
 Writing the Wrong
 Human Rights
 Book Review
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Recent earthquakes have raised the concern of Dhaka city residents in regards to the safety and security of their lives and property. The smaller earthquakes which followed the big ones are not necessarily indicators of an impending major quake. Compared to other third world countries, Bangladesh will have to compensate much more if such a quake does happen. The reason behind this is the presence of a large number of unplanned construction and the geographical position of Bangladesh at the junction of several plate boundaries. Moreover, many old government and privately owned buildings are vulnerable to earthquakes. Specialists recommend the National Building Code (NBC) with a view to prevent major accidents and damage. Our country does not have sufficient resources to handle the damage a big quake may cause. Preventions and pre-emptive measures can prepare citizens so they can attempt to minimise the loss caused by the tremors. We urge the government and the concerned housing authority to enforce the Construction Act and prepare the citizens by training them on how to act during a major earthquake to protect themselves. Awareness from an individual level must also be created by organising seminars, symposiums, and campaigns about self-protection during a natural disaster.

M Anisul Islam
University of Dhaka

Freedom of Media

Photo: star file

Recently, some Ministers and MPs of the ruling party have criticised some newspapers very harshly. They expressed their anger towards Prothom Alo, Samakal, and Aamader Somoy. They did this at the Jatiya Sangsad where there was no scope for others to defend themselves. The Speaker also took part in this discussion. They claimed that the Editor of the Prothom Alo is responsible for creating 1/11 and the grenade attacks on August 21, 2004. The two main rival parties of our country blame each other for causing 1/11. Till now, the case of August 21 incident is under investigation. For making democracy successful, someone must be held accountable. Newspapers ensure that the government is held accountable by publicly evaluating their performance for the world to see. In a country like Bangladesh where corruption is widespread, the media can play a vital role in exposing corrupt government officials. We, the general people, are kept well informed by the media about the activities of the government. The government should take the advice and criticism of the media to improve its performance. The government should encourage freedom of press so the people of the country are better informed.

Ratan Adhikary Ratul
SUST, Sylhet

Pesticides and our Environment

Photo: star file

Bangladesh is predominantly an agricultural country with an area of 1,47,570 square kilometre. Agriculture contributes 20.48 percent of GDP (Economic review report, 2010) and plays a major role in the lives of ordinary Bangladeshis. The estimated loss in yields due to attacks from pests and diseases annually ranges from 15 to 25 percent and the yield would probably decline by 30 to 75 percent without crop protective chemicals. Pesticide means any agent or chemical that controls or kills one or more pest populations. Agrochemicals including pesticides are considered a critical aid to improving agricultural production and the prevention of crop loss and post harvest.

Of the total pesticides applied to crops more than 99 percent moves into the ecosystem and contaminates the environment. In fact only 1 percent is used in pest control. One of the most important side effects of pesticide application is that huge amount of heavy metal (As, Pb, Cu, Hg etc) can accumulate in environment after pesticide degradation and subsequently they undergo physical and chemical changes including combination with other chemicals entering further in the food chain and accumulating in living organisms. These heavy metals cause some serious health hazards to humans and other non-target populations. Pesticides can also leach out from soil surfaces and contaminate ground water. Another problem is that many farmers use banned pesticides, due to lack of technical knowledge. The use of DDT (which is carcinogenic) is banned in Bangladesh but a significant amount of it is found in the environment as various studies show. Another problem is half of the farmers are found to be overusing pesticides and most of the farmers don't follow the proper guidelines, both are potentially a great threat to the farmers' health as well as the environment.

Even though pesticides have some serious adverse effect on the environment it helps us to protect enormous loss of crop yield due to pests and diseases. So judicial use of pesticides is essential for an agrarian and environmentally vulnerable country like Bangladesh.

Md Readul Ahsan Nipu
University of Dhaka

A Great Verdict

Farzana Hossain, a college girl died a tragic death in a road accident on October 26, 2007. It was shocking for her family. After a long drawn out court battle, on September 19 the following year, the final verdict was announced. Nurul Islam, the accused, had been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment.

In our country, the families of the victims of such accidents hardly get justice. The drivers escape prison time through bail, which encourages or brings no change in their behaviour. Farzana's mother Sophia Hossain said that she had to face many difficulties during the court case. The advocate asked for huge amounts of money to run the case, which was beyond her means. However, finally the authorities concerned handled the case properly. We hope to see more such successful verdicts in the near future.

My heartiest congratulations go out to Sophia Hossain for her struggle and patience in obtaining justice. This verdict should serve as a warning for all rash drivers.

Pradip Das
Lecturer, BHPI, CRP

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