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     Volume 9 Issue 48| December 17, 2010 |

 Cover Story
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Our private TV channels

These days, television is the main form of entertainment for almost everyone in this country. There are a huge number of private Bangla channels available that are supposedly portraying our culture and traditions. Because of satellite TV, we are exposed to what is happening around the world and our lifestyles, businesses etc are changing to keep up with foreign countries. However, it is a matter of great embarrassment that our private channels are not televised anywhere outside the country. If this was so, then, we could share our culture with foreign countries and expand our economy, trade etc and our foreign income would increase. I sincerely hope the government pays more attention to this sector in the future.

Subrata Ray
SUST, Sylhet

Hartal Woes

Photo: Star File

In the last 5 years we have forgotten what it is like to have hartals. But recent events have forced us to once again go through an unpleasant experience of dealing with hartals. Our opposition called a hartal for personal reasons which was the cause of much suffering and inconvenience for most citizens. Most of the people of our country criticised BNP for what they consider was an unwise move. They also ruined Eid for about 16 lakh JSC examinees. Our country bears huge economic losses because of hartals. The poor, especially those who drive public transport such as rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, taxis, four strokes, buses etc lose an entire days income. Businesses suffer and the entire country comes to a standstill. General people are forced to be trapped in their homes.

Most of the people of Bangladesh don't support this practice of calling hartals. Hartals are also by no means peaceful and is an excuse for people to carry out violent acts without the fear of consequences. Generally, people who support the opposition party carry out picketing and other types of aggressive activities.

Political parties should work for the welfare of the people. But if they become the reason for our sufferings, then who will people turn to? As a means of making a statement, hartals are completely ineffective and only serve to harm the general population. The only outcome of hartals is that the opposition loses its popularity with the general people and this defeats the entire purpose of calling hartals to begin with.

A matter of great concern that, BNP has taken the decision not go to the Sangsad Bhaban. But in a democratic country the parliament building is the most suitable place for the settlement of any dispute and any other issues. My request to the government is, please try to overcome petty differences and try to show a minimum amount of respect to the opposition and create a good example and show everyone that you are not like others. And you have to keep in mind that, your power is not everlasting. Try to concentrate on keeping your promises to the public. Controlling the price of necessities and bringing war criminals to justice should be given priority.

Ratan Adhikary Ratul
SUST, Sylhet

Chariots of Fire - (80)

Photo: zahedul i khan

Mr Saleh Ayub's regular letters on a variety of subjects are usually balanced and logical, but his latest effort on Dhaka's rickshaws (08 Dec), has all the facts, logic and malleability of prime bovine manure. This is my 80th letter to The Daily Star on the subject in 3 years, where I have analysed the traffic imbroglio from all angles and suggested solutions to keep Dhaka moving, but to no avail.

If I had Mr Ayub's e-mail, I would send him uncensored copies of just 3 out of the 80, sent to DS on the dates mentioned. “Rickshaw- free Capital”-22/05/08, “Facts on Dhaka's Jams”-29/10/09 and “Dhaka sans Rickshaws”- 19/04/10.

Sadly his comments smack of the smug superiority typical of expatriate Bangladeshis, who are not averse to comparing the marvels of the developed countries with their wide boulevards, efficient mass traffic systems, disciplined drivers and polite controllers with the chaos prevalent in Dhaka. None of these are expected within the next decades not with the quality of governance and greed so pervasive here.

By the by, is Mr Ayub and all supporters of Gas Guzzling Monstrosities (GGMs) that haunt our narrow, pot-holed roads, aware that the days of fuel driven vehicles are numbered? The billions plus GGMs have already been fingered as the worst polluters of the environment that may well end life on earth in this century. So set your polluting, honking chariots on fire and change your GGM for a solar-powered rickshaw while there is still time!!

Sikander Ahmed

CNG run auto rickshaw for Dhaka and Chittagong

We know that one-third of the population; about four million in Dhaka city belong to middle and lower-middle class income groups. They face tremendous difficulties when moving from one place to another. When one needs to go somewhere urgently such as an examination hall, one needs an affordable vehicle like CNG run auto-rickshaw as regular rickshaws are not allowed on all the roads in Dhaka city.

Taxis are not affordable and are rarely available. One needs an auto-rickshaw to attend a marriage ceremony with family members. One needs an auto rickshaw to take a patient to a hospital. Girls especially need auto-rickshaws to attend university or go to work, as the public bus service is not available in all areas of the city. The buses that are available are over crowded and often unsafe for female passengers.

Roads in the city are over crowded with vehicles. Many people belonging to the middle class cannot afford private cars but will buy them with money borrowed from commercial banks, if not brand new, then re-conditioned.

Private cars are the easiest way to be mobile. This is causing an increase in the number of cars in Dhaka city. Easily available CNG run auto-rickshaws could solve this problem to a great extent. In Bangalore, there are 65,000 LPG run auto-rickshaws and most middle class families own a small car of their own. A CNG auto-rickshaw occupies less than half the space on the road compared to a car or a jeep. The authorities should encourage the use of auto-rickshaws and discourage private cars, jeeps etc. The commuters in Chittagong are also suffering from the same problem.

The problem is, those who make these decisions in the government and proper authorities enjoy the use of their own private cars. They cannot relate to the suffering of the common people. They have imposed a lot of financial and administrative restrictions on CNG run auto-rickshaws to reduce their numbers on Dhaka and Chittagong city roads. The situation has increased the suffering of the middle and lower-middle class people. In a democratic society, an elected government needs to think about the needs and comforts of the general public but in this country, they have not been doing so. I would like to urge the government and authorities concerned to withdraw all the restrictions placed on CNG run auto rickshaws and to allow them to operate freely on the streets of Dhaka and Chittagong.

Md Ashraf Hossain Ramna

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