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    Volume 9 Issue 20| May 14, 2010|

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On The Case for Coal

I'm writing in response to the cover story “The Case for Coal” in the April 30 issue of The Star. The lead article explored, and, to a great extent, suggested, the coal option to ensure our energy security, while another article by Dipal Barua of Grameen Bank advocated a solar breakthrough. The long-term solutions to the energy and climate crisis were well addressed by Barua, and what he suggests is available today if we focus on renewable sources instead of remaining fixated on fossil fuels like gas and coal. I disagree with the writer's contention that solar power cannot be our main source of energy.
I wonder how we can contemplate burning large quantities of coal for electricity when coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels and has caused most of the global warming crisis to date. From mining, to burning, to waste disposal, coal threatens our health and safety.
On the other hand, we know renewable energy is limitless. It is really amazing to know that the Earth gets enough solar power every 40 minutes to meet the whole world's energy demand for a full year! Apart from that, wind power and geothermal resources are similarly capable of providing for our needs.
It's a myth that solar panels are costly, and even costlier to install. Now the scenario is changing little by little, and we are now armed with research and good practices. For example, we can be optimistic to know that American researchers have made a solar technology breakthrough recently by devising a way to make efficient thin film solar cell flexible enough to wrap around a pencil. The film can be applied to glass to convert solar energy into electricity. This would certainly cut costs, make the shipping of solar materials easy, and simplify installation.
Therefore, we have many options, and the costs are not too high. It is time our policy-makers, politicians, scientists and the media look beyond fossil fuels and help build a sustainable future.
Sirajul Islam
Pisciculture Housing Society
Shyamoli, Dhaka

Schools and Dhanmondi

The recent argument about moving schools out of the Dhanmondi residential area has turned into a big row. There are strong opinions on both sides. If these schools reestablish themselves at other locations, there is no doubt that this will hamper the education of a lot of students. The major reason behind the push to get the schools out is the ongoing traffic congestion in Dhanmondi, which is getting intolerable day by day! The solution could either be school zones, a zone or a big area where only schools would be located. School buses could be the mode of transportation, so that no single-passenger cars create congestion. A bit of sincerity by the local authority along with goodwill from pedestrians and car drivers can contribute a lot in reducing the difficulties we face. A better Dhanmondi is possible, without removing school facilities.
Mahbuba Sharmeen Preema
Penfield School, Dhaka

Woes of a Bachelor!
Most private universities in Dhaka city have no residential facilities, so those students who come from the village to study in a private university here, have to rent a flat or mess. However, here the naïve young student usually gets a rude shock. Most landlords don't agree to rent a house to bachelors. At the end of every month, a large number of sad-eyed students can be seen walking forlornly along the roads of residential areas, gazing up at the houses. It becomes clear that they are looking for signs that say “To Let”. But when they meet with the house owner, they usually exclaim, “Bachelor! No, no!” They don't give the hapless bachelor time to ask the reason for his refusal, but speed him on his way by saying, “Don't waste time, go and find another flat”. If every house owner says no to bachelors, where will they go? I request the government to take some steps to solve this bachelors' housing problem.
Md Alamin
Department of English (BU)
Bangladesh University, Dhaka

BCL running amok
It is really frustrating to see the behaviour of the BCL in various educational institutions in recent months. It looks as if this student body of the Awami League (AL) has completely lost the ideological basis that existed during the pre-independence period and now it is miserably devoid of any sense of commitment to develop Bangladesh ideologically, politically and intellectually. Now the question is whether the AL needs such a group of workers in the educational institutions. If so, AL should scrutinise the political and ideological background of the BCL's so-called members and their mentors. Experience suggests that most of such members have poor or no knowledge of the past history of the BCL vis-à-vis AL, they are not fully aware of the long struggle for national emancipation and the history of the Liberation War under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and BCL's role in the movement for independent Bangladesh. Now what will the AL do? It is high time that the AL reorganises the BCL as a student body and it endorses only after security clearance for its own political interest and for building up of potential leadership of the country. After such a clearance, the BCL members should undergo intensive training and education on issues like history and culture of Bangla-desh, various national issues and development strategies facing the country as well as political tradition and ideology of the AL. For this the AL may have to establish a training and education centre for the members of the BCL. Otherwise, when the present bunch of BCL members enter national politics (if they ever do!), it will be too late for the A L to recover.
M. Elahi


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