Call for no arbitrary application of new US visa policy



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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State Minister of Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam urged not to apply the US new visa policy arbitrarily.

He said, Dhaka is considering Washington's announcement in the context of the government's unequivocal commitment to hold free and fair elections at all levels with the aim of upholding the country's democratic process. However, Bangladesh hopes that this visa policy will be followed objectively rather than applied arbitrarily.

He said this in a response to the new visa policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (May 25).

During a press briefing, the state minister described the individual visa policy for Bangladesh under the 3C provision of the US Immigration and Nationality Act announced by the US Secretary of State on Wednesday night as the 'so-called 3C provision'. However, he explained it in the question and answer session. He said, since 2021, the United States has been applying that provision to various countries. It was applied in Bangladesh after Nigeria and Somalia, hence it is called 'so-called'. Neither welcoming nor rejecting that policy, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs hopes it will not be abused.

He said, the attention of the Bangladesh government has been drawn to the US government's visa policy announcement. Bangladesh is considering the US announcement in the context of the government's unequivocal commitment to hold free and fair elections at all levels to uphold the country's democratic process. However, Bangladesh hopes that this visa policy will be followed objectively rather than applied arbitrarily.

Bangladesh has been established as a democratic and politically stable state under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina through the experience of various national and local level elections.

Life unbearable in heat and load shedding



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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People all over the country are suffering from load shedding day and night in the uncomfortable heat. Even the weather office could not give any good news in this situation. Saying, there is no sign of this fever coming down anytime soon. It will be sickly hot for a few more days.

Due to load shedding in intense heat, the people of the capital Dhaka are suffering. The temperature in Dhaka was recorded at 37 degrees Celsius on Saturday. But the heat is felt more than 40 degrees Celsius.

Azwad Rahman, a resident of Khilkhet, said that the electricity has been going off for several days around 12 o'clock at night. It comes after an hour. Then the electricity went out again around 3 o'clock. There is no electricity for an hour about 3 to 4 times a day.

Rahim Sheikh, a resident of Panthpath, said that no light or air enters the house where I live. Then there is no electricity twice a night during intense heat. He said he sleeps only a few hours a night. After that, I have to go to the office again in the morning.

The workers say that it is not possible to work in summer. There are less people on the road. It has reduced income.

Regarding load shedding, the electricity department said, on Saturday (June 3) at 12 noon, 11 thousand 674 megawatts of electricity was generated against the demand of about 14 thousand (13921) megawatts. 2 thousand 247 megawatts have been produced less than the demand.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Power Nasrul Hamid told reporters after a program in Savar on Saturday that one unit of the Payra power plant has already been closed due to the coal shortage. Another unit will also be closed after June 5.

He further said that it will take at least 20 to 25 days to import coal. Load shedding has increased in the country due to the shutdown of several power plants. About 1700 MW load shedding is going on.

Nasrul Hamid said, we are struggling with oil. Now we are diverting most of the gas to industry. And the heat increased, went above 38 degrees, in some places it became 40-41 degrees. This has increased the demand for electricity, resulting in increased load shedding. This situation will remain for some days.

The Meteorological Department has said that there is no chance of rain in most parts of the country. The heat wave may continue for another four to five days.

Assistant meteorologist Kazi Zebunnessa said, severe and mild to moderate heat waves are flowing in some parts of the country. The heat wave may continue for another four to five days. But it has rained in Sylhet. Khulna, Barisal, Chattogram and Sylhet are likely to rain at one or two places, but there is no chance of rain elsewhere.

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Prime Minister to inaugurate new train on Chilahati-Dhaka route today



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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A new inter-city train to Dhaka from Chilahati railway station in Nilphamari is going to start today (Sunday). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the intercity train at 10 am.

According to railway sources, Nilphamari Express will run during daytime on the Chilahati-Dhaka route.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Railways has been informed about this decision in a letter sent from the Prime Minister's Office. District residents are happy with this news. Many thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on social media. They expressed their satisfaction in naming the train Nilphamari Express.

However, the demand of allocating enough seats for the 21 lakh people of this district has also been raised.

According to a source in charge of Western Railway, the trial of the train has already been completed. The train will leave from Chilahati on the way to Dhaka after the Prime Minister's inauguration on the morning of June 4. It will run regularly six days a week except Saturday.

The train will run from Chilahati to Dhaka during the day and from Dhaka to Chilahati at night. It will leave Chilahati station at 6 am and reach Dhaka at 3:10 pm. On the other hand, it will leave Dhaka at 4:30 pm and reach Chilahati at 2:30 am. After Chilahati, the train stops at Domar, Nilphamari, Syedpur, Parbatipur, Joypurhat, Santahar, Ishwardi Bypass and Airport stations. The number of seats of the 11-coach train imported from China is more than seven hundred and fifty.

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Agriculture under threat due to lack of accredited laboratories



Toriqul Islam Sumon, Senior Correspondent, Barta24.com
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In the absence of independent authorities and accredited laboratories, imported food grains and seeds can threaten the agricultural system of the country. Added to that, dealing with the problems caused by climate change, including post-harvest losses, storage and distribution of agricultural products, ensuring food security for an increasingly large population on shrinking arable land has emerged as a major challenge for Bangladesh's agriculture.

Agricultural experts said that agricultural products are being imported from abroad for the resources of the growing population, while grain seeds are also being imported. The supply of indigenous seeds in the market is very less. Earlier, locally grain seeds were available in the markets, but now they are scarce. Not being able to meet the demand in domestic production, high-yielding varieties of seeds and agricultural products are being imported from China, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Italy, Egypt and other countries.

Several officials of the Directorate of Agricultural Extension, who did not wish to be named, said that although we import agricultural products from different countries of the world for our needs, we always give importance to the matter of collecting samples of incoming agricultural and agricultural products and analyzing the harmful insects and diseases properly and issuing clearance through laboratory tests. As a result, there is a danger of various harmful insects and pathogens of crops from abroad spreading in the country. As a result, crop production can be severely disrupted by an entirely new type of pest attack.

Abu Nasser Khan, chairman of the Save the Environment Movement (PBA), said, "We always work with the environment in mind. In the case of import of agricultural products or seeds, the effectiveness of the quarantine center should be increased with the government. If not, there is a possibility of spreading various diseases.

He also said, many times we see new pests or crop diseases in the crops which we did not see when we were younger. Many times there have been cases of non-harvest of seeds brought from abroad. He also thinks that extensive research is needed on the products before importing any foreign agricultural products.

Experts say that during times of disaster there is a need to import food or agricultural products. Moreover, all crops, fruits and roots are not possible to produce in our country due to climatic conditions. In these cases it is necessary to import agricultural products. Caution is required in both cases. If proper rules are not followed in the import of products, there is a danger of various harmful insects and pathogens spreading in the country. As a result, crop production can be severely disrupted by an entirely new type of pest attack.

According to the sources of the Ministry of Agriculture, the importance of plant pest control in the agricultural extension directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture is immense for the import and export of agricultural products in all countries of the world. Currently there are plant pest control centers in 30 ports in the country. Out of these only 5 ports (Benapole, Hili, Burimari, Chattogram and Dhaka) have facilities for seed testing. Most of the remaining 25 do not have this service.

Former Director General of Agriculture Extension Directorate Md. Asadullah said, plant quarantine or plant quarantine is a legal measure to prevent the penetration and spread of destructive insects and disease germs transported with imported products within the country or from our country to other countries. About 92 percent of Bangladesh's imports and exports take place through the seaport, Chattogram. Clearance is given only if it is deemed appropriate to issue clearance through laboratory tests and proper monitoring of harmful pests and diseases by collecting and analyzing samples of agriculture and agricultural products coming from abroad.

In this regard, Deputy Director (Import) of Agriculture Extension Directorate (Plant Control Wing) Muhammad Liaquat Hussain Khan said, we work in two stages of import, one is food crops and the other is seeds. But in case of import of every product we give certain conditions to the importers which they must comply with. In all cases we have to ship or transport the product or seed after mandatory fumigation. In our country actually collect the sample from the port area and culture it (preserved for three days). Product discount is arranged if the test is advanced. He did not take no for an answer on the quality of the laboratory. But it is true that we do not have all the facilities in all centers. There are 5 centers for seed testing.

According to sources, it is becoming difficult to provide food to a large population even with the introduction of optimal utilization of limited agricultural land, increasing intensification of crop cultivation, and improved agricultural management. Bangladesh had to import 1 crore 86 lakh metric tonnes of plants and vegetable products in the last financial year, which is less than half of what it was just five years ago. Moreover, the extent to which we import products, with any product or in any way from abroad, can introduce pests that are harmful to crops into the country, disrupting agricultural production and disrupting food security. Due to wheat blast, the production has decreased by about 3 lakh metric tons and maize yield is less likely to be achieved due to armyworm intrusion.

Those concerned think that due to the agriculture-friendly policies of the present government, the country has achieved great success in the production of grains as well as vegetables and fruits. Currently, Bangladesh ranks third in the world in terms of vegetable production. But even though there is a huge possibility of exporting agricultural products, we are not able to fully utilize that opportunity. Organic Farming/ Contract Farming has not yet spread widely in the production of agricultural products in our country. As a result, poverty is a common feature.

Unregulated pesticides, fertilizers etc. are being used in the production of these products. And without contract farming, there is no record of what inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) are being applied in what quantities and when from the production of these agricultural products to marketing. The agricultural extension directorate collects vegetables from different regions of the country and tests the level of pesticide residue toxicity. But as there is no internationally recognized laboratory, it has not been possible to determine the acceptable MRL or Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level for the country.

At present there is no accredited laboratory of the Directorate of Agricultural Extension in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a member state of World Trade Organization and it is mandatory for all countries to follow the rules of International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and World Trade Organization (WTO). To follow these rules, all the countries of the world have created separate independent organizations, which did not happen in Bangladesh. As a result, plant pest control activities are not gaining momentum in Bangladesh. Plant pest control authority not created. The main driving force of Bangladesh's economy is agriculture, import-export of agricultural products and lack of international standard laboratories for plant quarantine activities can cause food problems by introducing unknown foreign destructive pathogens at any time.

There is a Plant Protection Laboratory set up at the Central Packing House at Shyampur, Dhaka. It is said that the work of making it an international standard is going on. However, in this case, the opinion of the deputy project director(DPD) of the related project could not be received. Attempts were made to contact DPD Md. Rezaul Karim but no comment was received.

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Body of Kabi Nazrul College Chhatra League president recovered



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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The body of Wasim Rana (30), president of Chhatra League unit of the capital's government Kabi Nazrul College, has been recovered.

The body was recovered from his residence in Chankharpool area of the capital on Friday (June 2) night.

Jagannath University unit Chhatra League President Ibrahim Faraji confirmed the news of his death.

It is known that Rana committed suicide at a house in Chankharpool by keeping his wife on a video call due to a marital dispute. His wife Sanjida Akhter (Jannati) is the former student affairs secretary of the college branch of the Chhatra League. Imran Hossain Babu, a classmate who recovered Rana's body, said that Rana was a first-year master's student in the Islamic History department. His village home is in Chitalmari upazila of Bagerhat district.

He also said that Rana was very upset for the last few days. I wanted to be alone. It was quiet. But he didn't say anything about what he was thinking. So I told him, friend, you should visit Cox's Bazar for some time.

Sanjida Akhter's neighbor Maidul Islam said, we call Sanjida Apu Jannati Apu. She has been married to Rana Bhai for a long time. But it was not disclosed due to political reasons. Jannati Apu hailing from Demra lived in a house in Tarabo area of Rupganj.

Rana's wife Sanjida was found crying in front of Dhaka Medical Hospital morgue at 1:30 am.

Dhaka Medical College Hospital Police Outpost In-charge (Inspector) Md. Bachchu Mia said that Rana's body is in the DMC hospital morgue. The matter has been informed to the concerned police station.

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