3 more army families receive PM’s cheques

March 24, 2009

BSS, Dhaka
Three more families of army officers killed on February 25-26 Peelkhana carnage received cheques of Taka 10 lakh each and letters of compassion from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
A delegation on behalf of the Prime Minister led by Chief Whip Abdus Shaheed went to the houses of the army families and handed over the letters and cheques on Wednesday, said a press release of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued on Monday.
The army officers are-Major Mahbubur Rahman, Major Khalid Hossain and Major Maksum-ul-Hakim.
Lawmaker Benjir Ahmed, assistant Read more

FBCCI urges govt: Turn blind eye to black money if tycoons buy bond

March 24, 2009

Staff Reporter

FBCCI President Annisul Huq addressing a pre-budget discussion organised by the federation at its office on Monday. NBR Chairman Muhammad Abdul Majid was present as the chief guest. Banglar Chokh

FBCCI President Annisul Huq addressing a pre-budget discussion organised by the federation at its office on Monday. NBR Chairman Muhammad Abdul Majid was present as the chief guest. Banglar Chokh

The government will go for a wide extension of the tax-net in the upcoming budget for 2009-10 fiscal year, as it will have to concentrate on internal resources, in view of a slowdown in foreign aid flow in the wake of the global recession.
National Board of Revenue Chairman Mohammad Abdul Mazid said it while addressing two separate pre-budget discussions: first one with the newspaper editors, senior journalists and media personalities and the Read more

Video-audio evidence of BDR carnage found

March 24, 2009

Footage to help investigation greatly; another FBI team shortly; govt waits for post-mortem on BDR men’s death
Staff Correspondent

102 more BDR men are being taken to the CMM court yesterday after they were arrested in connection with BDR mutiny case. Photo: Focus Bangla

102 more BDR men are being taken to the CMM court yesterday after they were arrested in connection with BDR mutiny case. Photo: Focus Bangla

Investigators of the BDR carnage found audiotapes and footage of the BDR officers’ meeting held on February 25 morning at Darbar Hall in Pilkhana and the CCTV footage of arms being looted from the BDR arsenal.
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, assigned to coordinate the work of probe committees, disclosed it yesterday evening to Read more

Landless to get govt land in upazilas

March 24, 2009

Govt also plans to set up shelters for the destitute
Mustafizur Rahman
The government has initiated a move to distribute ‘khas’ or government-owned land among the ‘landless people’ in each upazila across the country.
The entire process, that includes listing of landless people, identifying khas lands not in use by any authorities and allocation, will be completed by June 30, land ministry officials said.
The government has also planned to set up shelter centres for the destitute at the upazila level, they said, adding that the land ministry in separate moves has already issued directives to local administration for immediate measures to this effect.
‘Initially, khas land will be distributed among 20 families in each upazila. Two committees – one at the upazila level and Read more

Rice turns cheap

March 24, 2009

Good stock, low global market bring down prices
Staff Correspondent
The prices of both coarse and fine rice varieties are decreasing in this non-harvest season when rice prices normally remain high.
Sufficient stock and supply of rice and paddy and a fall in food grain prices on the international market are the main reasons behind this unusual price fall, traders and wholesalers said.
The prices of coarse rice varieties, including guti, have been hovering between Tk 23 and Tk 25 per kg in last one month in the retail markets. The prices were Tk 30-33 per kg at the same time last year.
The prices of fine rice varieties are hovering between Tk 35 and 38 per kg, which was between Tk 42 and 45 a kg last Read more

Delhi asks Dhaka for water transit to Tripura

March 24, 2009

Raheed Ejaz
New Delhi has asked Dhaka to allow transportation of heavy machinery and other equipments from Kolkata to Agartala through Bangladesh’s Ashuganj river port. The cargo will be used to construct a power plant in Tripura state.
The Indian delegation made the request on Monday, the first day of the two-day talks on water transit. Delhi further offered to help build all the required infrastructure on the Bangladesh side for transporting Indian machinery if Dhaka agrees to its proposal, sources told New Age.
After creation of widespread controversies over the issue of giving India transit through Bangladesh, Delhi has apparently shifted its demand to the low-visibility issue of water transit so that there are no political repercussions in Read more

Minister craves for luxury car

March 24, 2009

Violates govt rules to get one at cost of public money
Staff Correspondent
In breach of government rules, Roads and Highways Department (RHD) has lately invited tenders for a cross-country vehicle to be used by Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain.
According to procurement rules, a department cannot usually purchase of its own accord any vehicles, computers, furniture or other things.
For a purchase, it must go through the establishment ministry.
Only in certain circumstances can a department make a purchase and that too on approval from the establishment ministry or the ministry concerned. However, this rule does not cover buying a vehicle for use by a minister.
Usually, the transport directorate under the establishment ministry supplies vehicles for the ministers. Its concerns Read more

Source, cause of fire not known

March 24, 2009

Probe report blames Bashundhara for negligence in safety
Hasan Jahid Tusher
The probe committee that investigated the fire incident at Bashundhara Shopping Complex in its report yesterday could not identify the source and cause of the fire but mentioned gross negligence of the Bashundhara authorities regarding fire safety.
The Bashundhara authorities did not cooperate with the committee in providing necessary information and assistance, alleged the probe body in the report submitted to the home minister.
The committee found that the fire broke out at the complex at least an hour before the Bashundhara authorities called the fire fighters at about 1:45pm on March 13.
The fire exit doors at the shopping complex had been kept under lock and key during the incident, said the Read more

Body formed on BDR reconstitution

March 24, 2009

Staff Correspondent
The government on Monday formed a committee on the reconstitution of the border force in the wake of February 25–26 rebellion of soldiers in the Bangladesh Rifles headquarters in which at least 81, mostly army officers, were killed, a high official said.
‘I will do it at the earliest in the interest of the country,’ the BDR director general, Mainul Islam, told New Age after a meeting of the coordination body chaired by the commerce minister, Faruk Khan, at the Rifles headquarters. The meeting continued for three hours.
Mainul, who will head the committee on the rebuilding of the border force, said he would seek opinions of different forces including the army, Rapid Action Battalion, the police and Ansars in this regard.
‘It is difficult to carry out the responsibilities in the manner the force is being run now [after the rebellion],’ he said adding he Read more

Cabinet amends National Hajj Policy

March 24, 2009

Adopts new hajj package
UNB, Dhaka
The Cabinet at its regular meeting Monday brought some amendments to the National Hajj Policy and adopted a new hajj package to comply with new rules introduced by the Saudi government.
“The total cost of hajj will be Tk 2,20,550 per person under the new package,” PM’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told newsmen after the hour-long the meeting held at the PM Office with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
According to the new rules introduced by the Saudi government, the pilgrims must have international passports instead of ‘pilgrim passes’.
Besides, the size of each residence to be rented in Mecca will have to be of 4sqm instead of previous size of 3.5 meters, and in Madina it (size) has to be 5.5sqm instead of previous 4.5sqm in addition to renting 1 percent additional Read more

Hazard in high rise: Firemen have to wait for the fire to climb down

March 24, 2009

Staff Reporter
Speakers yesterday expressed the view that high-rise buildings in Dhaka city have multiplied the problems fire hazard, electricity, water shortage and equitable distribution of land and other resources.
Fire is an issue not only for high-rise buildings but for many structures in the capital for failing to follow the building code or taking necessary precautions against fire or other disasters, they said while addressing a roundtable at the Jatiya Press Club.
Save the Environment Movement (POBA) and WBB Trust jointly organised the roundtable programme.
Though high rise buildings have certain advantages in accommodating so many people at one place but disadvantages outweigh Read more

DU, BUET among world top varsities

March 24, 2009

Staff Reporter
Two leading public universities of the country-University of Dhaka (DU) and Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) have been ranked as 4922 and 3801 in global position respectively according to Webometrics January survey.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) of the USA has been ranked as number one in the world. Stanford University and Harvard University occupied second and third places respectively. Universities of the USA occupied the first 23 places consecutively in the world.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) ranked 29 while University of Dhaka (DU) ranked 45 in the sub-continent.
DU occupied 6712 position in the world ranking and 64 in the sub-continent in July last year. BUET stood 3664 in world Read more

South Asian journalists at risk: CPJ

March 24, 2009

Agence France-Presse . Manila
Journalists in South Asia face ‘severe risks’ amid escalating violence in the region, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report released in the Philippines Monday.
Attacks on media workers in Sri Lanka and Pakistan have increased and four other countries in the region — Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and India — also qualified for the CPJ’s ‘impunity index.’
The index, launched last year, lists countries where journalists are routinely killed or attacked and where governments have failed to solve the crimes.
‘South Asian journalists face particularly severe risks. The region’s nations make up nearly half of CPJ’s index,’ said the report, released in Manila to mark the fourth anniversary of the murder of Marlene Esperat, a local Read more

Pakistan may collapse in six months: Washington Post

March 24, 2009

UNB, Dhaka
The Pakistani state could collapse within six months if immediate steps are not taken to remedy the situation, warned a top adviser to the US Central Command in an interview with Washington Post.
David Kilcullen, who advises CENTCOM commander Gen. David H. Petraeus on the war on terror, urged US policy makers to focus their attention on Pakistan as a failure there could have devastating consequences for the entire international community.
In the interview published in Washington Post on Sunday, Kilcullen, who is credited with the success of the US troop surge strategy in Iraq, warned that if Pakistan went out of control, it would ‘dwarf’ all the crises in the world today. ‘Pakistan…hands down. No doubt,’ he said when asked to name the central front in the war Read more

Taskforce on recession holds first meeting today

March 24, 2009

UNB, Dhaka
The 27-member high-powered taskforce to fight recession sits today (Tuesday), the first since it was formed on March 18, to take stock of the emerging situation of the country’s economy as the fallout of the global recession and suggest measures to face the challenges.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, the taskforce convenor, will preside over the meeting to be held at 3 pm at the Finance Ministry conference room.
Officials said the Finance Minister had a series of meetings with the stakeholders from different sectors and trade bodies immediately after assuming office and assured them of taking measures to face the challenges from Read more

Tata Motors launches ultra-cheap Nano car today

March 23, 2009

AP, Mumbai, India

This file picture shows Ratan Tata, chairman of Indias Tata Group, driving the new Tata Nano car in New Delhi. The worlds cheapest car will be launched today with its makers hoping it will be a hit. Photo: AFP

This file picture shows Ratan Tata, chairman of India's Tata Group, driving the new Tata "Nano" car in New Delhi. The world's cheapest car will be launched today with its makers hoping it will be a hit. Photo: AFP

Tata Motors said it will launch its ultra-cheap Nano car in Mumbai on Monday – a vehicle meant to herald a revolution by making it possible for the world’s poor to purchase their first car.
But few predict the snub-nosed Nano will be able to turn around the company, which has been beset by flagging sales and high debt, anytime soon.
The Nano, which is priced starting at about 100,000 rupees ($2,050), is a stripped-down car for stripped-down times: It is 10.2 feet (3.1 meters) long, has one windshield wiper, a 623cc rear engine, and a diminutive trunk, according to the company’s Web site.
It does not have air bags or antilock brakes – neither of which is required in India – and if you want air conditioning, a radio, or power steering, you’ll have to pay extra.
Tata Motors has been hard-hit by the global downturn. Commercial vehicle sales, its core business, have been decimated as India’s growth slows, and consumers have had trouble getting affordable car loans.
The company declared a loss of 2.63 billion rupees ($54 million) for the October to December quarter, and it has been struggling to refinance the remaining $2 billion of a $3 billion loan it took to buy the Jaguar and Land Rover brands from Ford Motor Co. in June.
Even the launch of the Nano has been scaled back.
The car is arriving six months late because of violent protests by farmers and opposition political party leaders over land, which forced Tata to move its Nano factory from West Bengal to the business-friendly state of Gujarat.
Company officials have said it will take at least a year to complete the new factory, and until then, Tata will only be able to produce a limited number of Nanos from its other car plants in India.
Tata Motors hasn’t yet given details on production volumes, but most analysts doubt the company will be able to make more than about 50,000 cars in the next year – a far cry from the 250,000 the company had planned to roll out initially.
Vaishali Jajoo, auto analyst at Mumbai’s Angel Broking, said even if Tata Motors manages to sell 250,000 Nanos a year, it will only add 3 percent to the company’s total revenues.
“That doesn’t make a significant difference to the top line. And for the bottom line, it will take five to six years to break even,” Jajoo said.
Still, in this new age of global thrift, the Nano sounds appealing to more than just the struggling farmers and petty businessmen across India that Tata initially had in mind for the car.
“What do you think the chances are that the Nano will come to America? Personally, I’d love one,” Steven Smith, whose first car was a Volkswagen Dune Buggy, wrote recently on the Nano Facebook page.
Tata Motors unveiled the Tata Nano Europa, a slightly more robust version of the Indian model, at the Geneva Motor Show this month, with a planned launch of 2011. But the company has no plans to bring the Nano to America anytime soon.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

Mega malls nearly unfit to fight fire

March 23, 2009

The Daily Star visit to 5 leading shopping centres reveals sorry state of fire safety
Helemul Alam

Photo: STAR

Photo: STAR

Most of the shopping malls and markets in the capital are running without proper firefighting equipment and expertise, posing a serious threat to the life and property of owners, tenants and customers.
Although a number of big shopping malls have some necessary safety measures, those are not enough for lack of trained hands and fire drills. Besides, these shopping malls also don’t have modern equipment like sprinkler, smoke Read more

Jute sector needs a shove

March 23, 2009

Experts suggest price support and compulsory domestic use
Khawaza Main Uddin
The country’s jute sector, affected further by the global recession, now deserves ‘minimum support price’ and compulsory use of the fibre in certain public sector programmes to give incentives to both farmers and entrepreneurs, suggest experts.
With exports of jute goods declining drastically, they feel that the government should come up with a special package for the jute sector to protect jute industries, especially the spinning mills, from the adverse impacts of the global financial crisis, and encourage more farmers to grow jute.
The experts insist that the government should give a ‘clear signal’ to the farmers, based on a policy to guarantee a minimum price as Read more

Bashundhara city inferno: Change in design of fire safety lobby blamed

March 23, 2009

Mamunur Rashid
Change in the design of the fire safety lobby at the Bashundhara City complex and technical glitches were mainly blamed for the outbreak of fire at the country’s biggest shopping mall on March 13.
Director of Development, Training and Planning of the Fire Service and Civil Defense Motiur Rahman, who is one of the members of the probe committee, told the New Nation yesterday they found that the design of the Fire Safety Lobby at Bashundhara City has been changed from its original plan.
Fire safety lobby in any multi-storied building is considered as one of the most important parts as it is built with some special features for fighting fire and evacuating trapped people to safety when fire breaks out.
Rahman said due to faulty fire fighting system, fire alarms set up at the building gave false warnings at least 886 times in the last Read more

1,614 non-govt schools, colleges face music

March 23, 2009

POOR SHOW IN SSC, HSC EXAMS
1,614 non-govt schools, colleges face music
Siddiqur Rahman Khan
The education ministry is going to cancel the monthly pay orders of teachers of 554 non-government schools, colleges and madrassahs and cancel the academic recognition of 1,060 more such institutions, where teachers do not get monthly pay orders, because of very poor performance in the public examinations of 2008.
‘Less than five examinees from each of the 1,614 institutions have passed the SSC, HSC and its equivalent exams of 2008. Rules require the institutions to have at least 15 successful examinees in the secondary school certificate or equivalent exam and at least 10 examinees in the higher secondary certificate or equivalent Read more

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