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  1. 12:00 AM, September 15, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:46 AM, September 15, 2020 Myanmar troops mobilised in Rakhine Porimol Palma Mobilising thousands of troops in northern Rakhine has created fears of a fresh crackdown and subsequent Rohingya influx like the one that forced around 750,000 members of the ethnic group to flee to Bangladesh. Analysts think deploying troops near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border also could be Myanmar's tactic of provoking Bangladesh and distracting the global attention from the Rohingya crisis that has not been addressed yet even more than three years after the influx. "One of the purposes of gathering troops in the Rohingya villages could be driving them out at a time when the world faces a global pandemic and other tensions over Indo-China border dispute and US elections," said Brig Gen (retd) Shahedul Anam Khan. Another purpose could be provoking Bangladesh, he told this correspondent yesterday, a day after Bangladesh's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General (Myanmar) summoned Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh, Aung Kyaw Moe, to express concern over the suspicious movements of Myanmar soldiers along the border since last Friday. Myanmar troops were moved to northern Maungdaw's Rohingya-dominated villages in boats via the Naf river that divides Bangladesh and Myanmar, said an official concerned. The foreign ministry asked Moe to take effective actions to avoid any misunderstandings between the two countries. The diplomat assured the ministry of communicating the matter to the Myanmar authorities, he said. "We have our fishermen fishing in the Naf river. There may be unexpected incidents because Myanmar had no announcement on the movement of troops," said an official, adding that such movement along the border is a matter of concern for any country. According to Kaladan Press, a Rohingya news agency, about 1,000 Myanmar troops arrived by boat in northern Maungdaw early morning of September 11. Quoting a Rohingya boat driver, it said officials from Maungdaw had ordered 20 fishing boats from Maung Ni to travel down to Inn Din on the coast of southern Maungdaw, and stand by from September 8. On September 10, four Burma Navy ships arrived off the coast of Inn Din, and the boat driver saw "thousands" of troops disembarking. That night, the boat drivers from Maung Ni were forced to transport the troops along the coast up to northern Maungdaw, carrying about 50 armed soldiers in each boat. The troops disembarked at different locations along the Naf river, including Ngakhura, about 20km north of Maungdaw town; Maungdaw No.1 Jetty near Maungdaw town, and Kanyin Chaung. "The arrival of so many Burma Army troops is creating fear among Rohingya residents of Maungdaw, who fear a repeat of the deadly "clearance operations" in 2017," reported Kaladan Press. A Rohingya in Maungdaw said Burmese soldiers had already been in Rakhine in high numbers since 2017. Now the reinforcement of it with additional two to three thousand more is seriously worrying for the Rohingyas. He said it was surprising why the troops used the waterways to reach to northern Rakhine when there were no problems with roads. Security analyst Shahedul Anam said such troop mobilisation in Rakhine is happening at a time when it is failing to comply with the International Court of Justice order of preventing genocidal acts. Instead, the escalation of conflicts between Myanmar military and the Arakan Army (a Myanmar separatist group) in recent months left hundreds of ethnic Rakhine and dozens of Rohingya civilians killed, he said. Meanwhile, two soldiers who deserted the military in Rakhine also confessed in a film of their involvement in mass killings of Rohingyas upon orders from the high command, a fact that could be significant in the investigation by the International Criminal Court. Shahedul Anam said it is possible that the military would conduct operations in Rakhine to fuel the nationalistic behaviour of the Burmese ahead of the national polls on November 8. Munshi Faiz Ahmad, former chairman of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, said Myanmar had wanted to drive out all the Rohingyas from Myanmar. Now that all are busy tackling the coronavirus pandemic and are drawn by other regional or global tensions. It is not unlikely Myanmar military wants to drive out the rest six lakh Rohingyas to Bangladesh, he said. Fighting the Arakan Army can also be used just as a pretext by Myanmar to actually conduct anti-Rohingya operations, he said. Both the experts said Myanmar tried to provoke Bangladesh repeatedly by mobilising military along the border and by violating Bangladesh's air space, but Bangladesh has always dealt it with keeping heads cool. "This time too, Dhaka should not do anything so that Myanmar can put blame on us. Rather, we should reach out to the international community and continue keeping the focus on addressing the Rohingya crisis," said Faiz, also a former ambassador. https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/myanmar-troops-mobilised-rakhine-1961365
  2. 15 September, 2020 03:35:00 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 September, 2020 05:32:12 PM Payra power plant’s 2nd unit expected to open in Oct BSS, Dhaka The second unit of the country’s largest coal-fired power plant at Payra in southern Bangladesh is expected to go for commercial operation in first week of October as its trial run already started, an official said. “We are expecting that Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the 660 MW second unit of Payra power plant in the first week of October,” Managing Director of North-West Power Generation Company Ltd (NWPGCL) A M Khurshedul Alam told BSS today. He said the first 660 MW unit of the power plant started commercial operation in May last. According to the project details, Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited (BCPCL), the owner of the Payra coal-fired power plant, inked a contract with a Chinese consortium for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the 1,320MW coal-fired power plant near the Payra seaport in Patuakhali district on March 29, 2016. It said China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC) is implementing the power plant project, which is a joint venture initiative of NWPGCL and BCPCL. The BCPCL is now importing coal from Indonesia. The consortium of the China Energy Engineering Group, the Northeast Electric Power Construction Co Ltd, and the China National Energy Engineering & Construction Co Ltd is implementing the power plant project as the EPC contractor, the details said. Khurshedul Alam said currently the NWPGCL is supplying 25,00 MW to the national grid, which would be 3100 after commercial operation of the second unit of the Payra power plant. Apart from this, two separate power plants with some 2,300 MW capacity are under construction including Khulna Power Plant with 800 MW and Payar power plant with 1300 MW, he said. Asian Development Bank (ADB) has given loan for 800 MW power plant in Khulna, being implemented by China as EPC contractor while Chinese Export Import Bank is financing for construction of 1300 MW Payra power plant project, he added. Khulna Power Plant is expected to open in 2023 as the construction of the Payra power plant is hoped to complete in the same year, he continued. http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/253286
  3. 07:50 PM, September 14, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:09 PM, September 14, 2020 Bangladesh keen to deepen ties with Turkey: PM UNB, Dhaka Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Bangladesh is keen to boost its relationship with Turkey as it is deeply rooted in shared history, faith and traditions based on trust and confidence. The prime minister said this while virtually opening Bangladesh's Embassy complex in Ankara from her official residence Gono Bhaban. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen also spoke at the programme. The PM recalled her visit to Ankara at the invitation of then Prime Minister and now President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on April 13, 2012 and said the formal diplomatic ties between the two countries began in 1974. On behalf of the Bangladesh government and herself, Sheikh Hasina thanked Turkey for extending support to Bangladesh on various issues, including the Rohingya crisis. "All the support you extended for [resolving] the Rohingya crisis, we also thank you for your support… I think it has been nearly three years [since the crisis broke out]. So, Rohingya people should go back to their own country. I feel Turkey can play a pivotal role in this regard," she said. About the Covid-19 crisis, the prime minister said the world is enduring a difficult time due to the pandemic as it has battered the health systems and the economies of most countries. In Bangladesh, she said, they have been able to successfully contain the spread of the virus. "At the same time our timely and appropriate measures and stimulus packages have also been able to minimise the disastrous effects of the deadly disease. We've so far announced a set of Covid-19 recovery packages worth 13.25 billion dollars, equivalent to 4.03 percent of our GDP." The prime minister also commended Turkish leadership for its success in fighting the deadly pandemic and appreciated its initiative to dispatch medical supplies to different countries, including Bangladesh. She said Bangladesh is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. After showing some initial sluggishness for a month or two due to the pandemic, exports have started making a turnaround from July. "We're overcoming the situation. The country's foreign currency reserve now stands at a record 39.40 billion US dollars. We're on the right path to graduate from LDC [least developed country] to a developing country," she said. Talking about the newly-built Embassy Complex, the Prime Minister said it took less than two years to complete the construction of the Embassy building with the help of the Turkish as well as Bangladesh authorities. The distinct red-brick cladding on the Embassy complex would resonate for long the Bangladeshi architectural impression and heritage. The spacious complex has all facilities along with a beautiful auditorium. It proudly hosts a bust of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and a Shaheed Minar. To achieve vision 2021 and 2041, she said, Bangladesh is set to expand its global outreach by establishing many more diplomatic offices. "This permanent embassy complex in Ankara is a testimony to the priority Bangladesh attaches to boost further its friendship with Turkey. The recently built Turkish Embassy building in Dhaka also demonstrates the same sentiment," she said. She hoped the formal opening of the Turkish Embassy building in Dhaka would also take place soon with the presence of President Erdogan during the ongoing Mujib Year. "Please convey my invitation to the president and the first lady," the prime minister requested the Turkish foreign minister. She also thanked Turkey for repairing the Bangladeshi Navy ship that was damaged in the recent blasts in Lebanon. https://www.thedailystar.net/bangladesh-keen-deepen-ties-turkey-1961169
  4. Bangladesh summons Myanmar ambassador over troop movement United News of Bangladesh .Dhaka | Published: 10:00, Sep 14,2020 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday summoned Myanmar Ambassador to Bangladesh Aung Kyaw Moe and protested visible movement of Myanmar military very close to Bangladesh-Myanmar border. The Myanmar Ambassador was summoned to the office of Director General (DG-Myanmar Wing) Md. Delwar Hossain. ‘Yes, the Ambassador was summoned and conveyed Bangladesh’s protest,’ a senior official told UNB. Bangladesh noticed suspicious movement of Myanmar military forces on fishing trawlers close to the maritime international border since Friday, a source said. Bangladesh side asked the Myanmar to stop such suspicious movement so that no misunderstanding takes place between the two countries. Such movement of military along the international border might create panic among Rohingyas living on both sides of the border, sources said. Earlier, nine countries including the USA and UK said they are concerned by the continued clashes between the Myanmar military and the Arakan Army in Rakhine and Chin States and by the heavy toll this continues to take on local communities. The nine countries are Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Tunisia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America. On the situation in Rakhine more broadly, it is now more than three years since over 700,000 Rohingyas were forcibly displaced from their homes to Bangladesh because of violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military. The countries urged Myanmar to intensify its bilateral dialogue with Bangladesh to agree a durable solution that enables the safe, voluntary, sustainable, and dignified return of Rohingyas. The countries underscored that accountability is an essential part of addressing the long-term challenges in Myanmar and in creating conditions for the return of Rohingyas and IDPs. ‘We stress the importance of fighting impunity and holding accountable all those responsible for violations of international law and abuses,’ reads the joint statement. In line with Security Council Presidential Statement 2017/22, they called on Myanmar to accelerate its efforts to address the long-term causes of the crisis in Rakhine and create conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, sustainable, and dignified return of refugees. In particular, the countries encouraged Myanmar to set out a transparent and credible plan to implement the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission and the Independent Commission of Enquiry. https://www.newagebd.net/article/116208/bangladesh-summons-myanmar-ambassador-over-troop-movement
  5. 12 September, 2020 08:06:26 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 September, 2020 08:11:22 PM Work on 5-star hotel, amusement park begins at Nilgiri Staff Reporter, Dhaka The construction work of the 5-star Marriott Hotel and Amusement Park has begun in full swing at Nilgiri in Bandarban. The 24th Division and the 69th Brigade of Bangladesh Army, Army Welfare Trust and R&R Holdings Limited, a concern of Sikder Group, are jointly implementing the project, said a press release. According to the statement, once implemented, the project will be one of the best tourist attractions in Bangladesh. Besides the main hotel building, there will be 12 separate villas, modern cable cars to facilitate tourists’ travel from one hill to another. There will be various kinds of amusement facilities, including rides and swimming pools. Army Welfare Trust and R&R Holdings Limited signed a 35-year lease and profit-sharing agreement to implement the project at the exquisitely beautiful Nilgiri surrounded by hills. It is on the Chimbuk-Thanchi route and 47 kilometres southeast of Bandarban district town. Chairman of R&R Holdings Limited Rick Haque Sikder and Major Khairul of the 69th Brigade of Bangladesh Army visited the project site on Saturday. During the visit, Rick Haque Sikder said the project could be open for tourists within September next year. http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/253164
  6. 12 September, 2020 04:49:32 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 September, 2020 09:15:36 PM 3 more Differential GPS beacon stations for river dredging on cards ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN, Dhaka The government has planned to install three more Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) beacon stations to conduct river dredging survey and navigation activities in the country in a tech savvy way. It would need Tk 75 crore (estimated) to procure only equipment excluding establishment costs and land acquisition for the base stations. The three new DGPS stations will be installed in Chandpur, Rajshahi and Rangpur, sources in the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) told this correspondent. Besides, three existing DGPS stations situated in Mymensingh, Chattogram and Jashore —will be renovated. A five-member feasibility study committee has been formed headed by Mehedi Hasan, superintendent engineer, hydrographic division of the BIWTA in this regard. “It is not covering the total areas through existing three DGPS. Total rivers will be under full coverage after installation the three new DGPS stations. It would help to prepare accurate chart for river dredging through proper survey report,” Mehedi Hasan told this correspondent while talking to The Independent on Thursday. He said it is needed to dredge the rivers round the year to maintain navigability. “The DGPS stations will be linked with the satellite. So, it would also help to operate ferries and water vessels smoothly. Besides, it would also help to reduce accidents in waterways,” Mehedi Hasan said in reply to a query. He said such DGPS beacon stations are very important to conduct hydrographic survey. “Now we are conducting a feasibility study in this regard. We have estimated Tk 25 crore for each DGPS beacon station only for procurement of equipment. Besides, more fund will be needed for land acquisition and construction purposes. We are now assessing the project and later will be possible to inform total cost,” he said to another query. Hasan said they are searching lands at Chandpur, Rajshahi and Rangpur to install the DGPS beacon stations. The existing three such stations are very old and it is needed to re-construct. Once the DGPS beacon stations are installed it would help to maintain the river’s channels properly maintaining accuracy of hydrographic survey through dredging, he added. http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/253152
  7. 13 September, 2020 12:29:19 PM Bangladesh tops in UN Peacekeeping Mission UNB, Dhaka Bangladesh has secured the top position among 118 countries in sending troops to the United Nations peacekeeping missions. The Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate disclosed the information through a press release on Saturday. Bangladesh regained the position by sending a 160-member Quick Reaction Force in the Central African Republic on July 17, it said. A total of 6,731 Bangladeshis are now employed in different peacekeeping missions of the United Nations. Bangladesh is followed by Ethiopia with 6,662 peacekeepers. In the Indian subcontinent, India has been in fifth place with 5,353 peacekeepers and Pakistan in sixth position with 4,440 peacekeeping members in the UN missions. http://www.theindependentbd.com/post/253187
  8. 02:23 PM, September 13, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:25 PM, September 13, 2020 PM to virtually inaugurate Bangladesh Chancery Complex in Ankara tomorrow UNB, Dhaka Photo courtesy: UNB Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to virtually inaugurate the newly-constructed Bangladesh Chancery Complex in Ankara tomorrow. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen will join his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu at the inaugural ceremony there. Dr Momen left for Turkey this morning, a senior official told UNB. The foreign minister will hold bilateral talks with his Turkish counterpart on September 15, he said. Rohingya crisis, D-8 summit, trade and investment issues are expected to come up for discussion at the meeting. The foreign minister is scheduled to return home on September 16, said the official. The construction work of Bangladesh Chancery Complex in Ankara was completed on September 3 at the cost of Tk 45.76 crore Main features of the Complex include Chancery Building, Embassy Residence, 229 seat hi-tech auditorium named 'Victory 1971', automated mechanical and electrical systems, mosque, gymnasium, display centre for Bangladeshi items, library for reference books on Bangladesh primarily on Bangabandhu, War of Independence and socio-economic development of Bangladesh. As reflection of Bangladesh's history of independence, a bust of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Shaheed Minar were also installed at the complex, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moreover, 36 sqm mural works titled 'Invincible Bangladesh' as well as terracotta works on the rural life of Bangladesh were also placed at the Complex. Reflection of the aura of Bangladeshi architecture was ensured by the use of red bricks in the façade of the buildings and use of flat roof. A protocol between Bangladesh and Turkey on Exchange of Land Plots for Diplomatic Missions was signed in Dhaka at the Foreign Minister level on November 14, 2010. The protocol paved the way for acquisition of land plots mutually exchanged between the two countries for construction of diplomatic missions in their respective capitals. Later, in 2012, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina laid the foundation stone for the 'Construction of Bangladesh Chancery Complex in Ankara' project and the bust of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the site at Oran Diplomatic Zone during her visit to Turkey in 2012. The implementation of the project received a renewed boost after M AllamaSiddiki, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Turkey and current Project Director, took charge of the Mission at the end of 2015, said the Bangladesh Embassy in Turkey. The ground breaking for the construction was done on September 18, 2018. Although construction was going on smoothly, work progress suffered heavily due to snowfalls in two winters and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these hurdles, the Embassy could manage to complete the construction within 20 months of the ground breaking. Tk 2.26 crore was refunded by Bangladesh Embassy in Ankara at the successful completion of the construction project. https://www.thedailystar.net/world/news/pm-virtually-inaugurate-bangladesh-chancery-complex-ankara-tomorrow-1960537
  9. 12:00 AM, September 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:13 AM, September 02, 2020 edotco deploys Bangladesh’s first hybrid solar-wind tower in Hatiya Star Business Desk Integrated telecom infrastructure services company edotco Bangladesh has built a 75-metre hybrid solar-wind tower in Hatiya, a remote cyclone-prone island located to the north of the Bay of Bengal, where no commercial power connection is available. The tower consists of an in-built green hybrid energy solution with a capacity to produce 42 kilowatts per day from 12-kilowatt solar panels and 6 kilowatt per day from 4-kilowatt wind turbines mounted on the tower to ensure round-the-clock power supply, keeping the telecom system operating throughout the year. The renewable energy solution not only helps decrease operating expenses by reducing diesel consumption and maintenance costs, but also reduces carbon emissions by up to 80 per cent, the company said in a statement. "As a socially responsible company, edotco implements initiatives in communities across the nation irrespective of their location or economic condition," said Ricky Steyn, country managing director of edotco Bangladesh. "Solutions like these allow us to bring connectivity to underprivileged communities who desperately need it for social empowerment. Aware of the community's needs, we aim to deliver solutions that are sustainable and can help improve the quality of livelihoods." This renewable energy solution is the first of its kind in Bangladesh, specially built to address connectivity needs in areas where the national electricity grid is unavailable, according to the statement. This initiative is a part of edotco's continuous efforts to ensure seamless connectivity throughout the nation by using alternative energy solutions to power telecom towers through the deployment of innovative, sustainable and energy-efficient solutions. The hybrid system has vertical axis wind turbines to take wind from 360 degrees and it is scalable to user defined energy needs, the company said. The environment-friendly system is equipped with the facility to operate silently is also easy to assemble and maintain and requires minimal maintenance support, according to the statement. The wind tower is established not only in line with the company's commitment to champion sustainable energy but also in support of the nation's vision to ensure that seamless connectivity is available both in urban and rural communities, Steyn said. "We understand how connecting rural communities is integral in meeting the country's digital vision and are committed to being nation building partners. "We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and building sustainable infrastructure that is efficient and environmentally-friendly," said Ir Kumari Nalini, edotco Group's director of engineering and technology. "Wherever possible, our towers use the national grid as the main energy source but for countries where this is a challenge, renewable energy is a viable solution and we work with various stakeholders within each of our footprint countries to make this option available." A similar solution was deployed in four sites across Myanmar last year, Nalini said. The engineering teams worked together to adopt the learnings from Myanmar and bring a better, improved solution to the site in Hatiya, she added. "Bangladesh has been home to a few firsts for edotco over the years, and we look forward to bringing and creating more innovations for and by the people." Established in 2012, edotco Group is the first regional and integrated telecommunications infrastructure service company in Asia, providing end-to-end solutions in the tower services sector from tower leasing, co-locations, build-to-suit, energy, transmission and operations and maintenance. The group operates and manages a regional portfolio of over 31,820 towers across scores of markets in Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Laos, Philippines and Pakistan with 20,230 towers being directly operated by edotco. In Bangladesh, edotco currently owns and operates over 10,000 telecom towers. https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/edotco-deploys-bangladeshs-first-hybrid-solar-wind-tower-hatiya-1954465
  10. 12:00 AM, September 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:24 AM, September 02, 2020 Air Traffic Control: New radar to usher in a new era Purchase deal likely to be finalised in a couple of months Shariful Islam The purchase deal of a state-of-the-art radar system, long overdue for safe aircraft navigation and control of air traffic through the country's airspace, is expected to be finalised in a couple of months. The ultra-modern radar will enhance the country's airspace safety, ensure safe landing of aircraft in adverse weather and improve the communication system which is now very weak. The Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (Caab) recently issued a letter requesting the French government to authorise the radar-maker Thales to supply the long-range sophisticated radar, said a top Caab official. The radar costing between Tk 600 to Tk 700 crore will be purchased following a government-to-government (G2G) deal. First a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be signed with the French government on authorising Thales. Then Bangladesh will negotiate with the company, and an inter-ministerial committee has already been formed for this, added the official. "The purchase of the radar was under process for quite a long time. Now it has reached a matured stage," Caab Chairman Air Vice Marshal M Mafidur Rahman told The Daily Star recently. He further said it may take around three years to install the new radar in Dhaka and fully implement the system which will enhance Caab's capacity to control air traffic communications with any commercial aircraft flying over Bangladesh. The country now has two radars -- at the international airports in Dhaka and Chittagong. These age-old radars have serious dearth of capacity to ensure surveillance of the airspace which has now expanded significantly with Bangladesh winning the maritime disputes with Myanmar and India. "A number of air routes are passing through the country's south airspace. As the existing radar systems cannot control commercial air traffic on the routes, India is now providing the service," said the Caab chairman. However, Bangladesh gets a share of revenue that India earns from the service. "Once the new radar system is installed, our control will be established and we will earn a good amount from services to aircraft flying through the routes in the south," said Mafidur Rahman. Bangladesh has hardly any control over its vast airspace as the existing radar in Dhaka is 36-year-old and has gone through modification several times. The other radar in Chattogram is also very old. With these, the communication system can go out of order anytime, Caab officials said. The radar in Dhaka can communicate 200 nautical miles and able to see aircraft within 100 nautical miles. The one in Chattogram can detect aircraft far at 240 nautical miles and its communication capacity is a bit more. The new radar will be connected through integrated networking system, covering the entire airspace up to the sea boundary. The technical specification of the new radar has already been completed with the support of ICAO's technical cooperation bureau specialist. The Caab took initiatives to replace the old radar in Dhaka in 2005. In 2012, a company proposed to install the radar at Tk 330 crore under the public-private partnership. After all formalities, tender was floated and four companies took part in the bidding in 2015. Caab primarily selected a company and sent the proposal to the ministry for final approval, but the ministry rejected it as it showed unusual expenditure. Then again in September 2018 initiative was taken as per the order of Prime Minister's Office to make the purchase under the project titled "Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/ Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM)" under G2G process. https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/air-traffic-control-new-radar-usher-new-era-1954337
  11. 02:34 PM, August 31, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:45 PM, August 31, 2020 Bangladesh Railway, Chinese joint-venture firm sign contract for 125 luggage vans Star Online Report Mizanur Rahman Yang Bing sign a contract on behalf of their respective sides at Dhaka's Rail Bhaban, in presence of Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan on Monday, August 31, 2020. Photo: Collected Bangladesh Railway (BR) today signed a contract with a Chinese joint-venture firm to procure 125 railway luggage vans to boost transportation of agro-based products. Under the contract, the joint venture firm of CNTIC-RAIL TECO-JINXI will supply 75 meter-gauge and 50 broad-gauge luggage vans at a cost of Tk 358.39 crore. The firm will complete supplying the luggage vans in between 20 and 24 months from the effective date of the contract, and commissioning work will be completed within 27 months. The luggage vans are being procured under the project titled "Rolling Stock Operation Improvement Project (Rolling Stock Procurement)" assisted by the Asian Development Bank. Mizanur Rahman, the project director, and Yang Bing, deputy general manager of CNTIC, signed the contract on behalf of the respective sides at the capital's Rail Bhaban, in presence of Railways Minister Nurul Islam Sujan. https://www.thedailystar.net/country/news/bangladesh-railway-chinese-joint-venture-firm-sign-contract-125-luggage-vans-1953537
  12. 12:00 AM, August 30, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:05 AM, August 30, 2020 Australian biotech firm to set API plant at BSMSN for $30m Jagaran Chakma Australian biotechnology company HA TECH will invest up to $80 million, or roughly Tk 700 crore, to establish a large-scale active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facility in Bangladesh that could help the country meet its growing demand. "We aim to fulfil the demand for quality APIs in Bangladesh," Abdullah Al Mahmud, executive chairman of HA TECH, told The Daily Star. Initially, the Sydney-based company, which produces APIs mainly for cardiovascular, diabetic, ulcer and oncology applications, will invest $30 million to develop the facility. But within the next five years, the total investment could reach $80 million if the company wants to increase the product range. There are about 10 local companies, including Eskayef, Square, Beacon and Beximco, that produce API materials on a limited scale, according to SM Shafiuzzaman, secretary general of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI), a collective of about 250 local drug markers. Local production can at best meet 5 or 6 per cent of the annual demand from the pharmaceutical sector, which has only grown in stature with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Monjurul Alam, director for global business development at Beacon Pharmaceuticals. Subsequently, Bangladesh spends about $1.3 billion each year to import APIs from the US, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France and the UK. Development works for HA TECH's upcoming state-of-the-art good manufacturing practice (GMP) facility spanning 10 acres on at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar (BSMSN) will begin in January, said Paban Chowdhury, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA). HA TECH and BEZA signed the land lease agreement on 25 August. The facility is expected to go into full operation by sometime next year. Securing more foreign direct investment (FDI) for the country's Tk 22,000 crore-pharmaceutical industry, particularly API manufacturing, is crucial for propping up the sector, Chowdhury said. About 98 per cent of the annual domestic demand for pharmaceutical products is met by BAPI members. After meeting the local demand, the products are shipped to 144 different countries. Pharmaceutical shipments rose 4.5 per cent year-on-year to $136 million in fiscal 2019-20 following improvements in product quality and policy support. The National Board of Revenue recently declared that imports of API products, pharmaceutical raw materials and reagents would be exempt of VAT until 2025 in a bid to boost the sector. However, the tax authority also imposed a condition on API producers that require them to spend at least 1 per cent of their annual turnover on research and development projects for them to avail the benefit. The minimum value-addition should be 60 per cent. "Our pharmaceutical sector will contribute to export diversification. Therefore, BEZA always welcomes API manufacturers at economic zones and is ready to roll out the red carpet, if needed," he added. There is a huge potential to invest in API manufacturing in Bangladesh, said Beacon Pharma's Alam. The reason being, the pharmaceutical sector is expected to grow 15 per cent year-on-year to reach $5.1 billion by 2023, propelled by investments from local companies that seek to grab a bigger share of the global market, according to an estimate. Mahmud though is buoyant that HA TECH's facility will become a manufacturing hub for a range of finished pharmaceutical products as well. This includes nucleic acid drugs that use oligonucleotide, which is one of the newest segments of innovative medicine. https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/australian-biotech-firm-set-api-plant-bsmsn-30m-1953261
  13. 02:25 PM, August 27, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:19 PM, August 27, 2020 Govt permits icddr,b to run Phase-III trial of Chinese Covid-19 vaccine Star Online Report The government has permitted icddr,b to run the Phase-III trial of the Chinese vaccine for Covid-19. Health minister Zahid Maleque said this today while talking to journalists at the conference room of the ministry in the Secretariat. Earlier, the minister held a meeting with the icddr,b officials, source said. International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b), and the inventor Chinese company -- Sinovac Research and Development Limited -- will jointly conduct the trial. According to the US Centre for Disease Control (US-CDC), the general stages of the development cycle of a vaccine are: exploratory stage, pre-clinical stage, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing and quality control. Phase-III clinical trial means the vaccine is at its final stage of major trials in which the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety. The hospitals where the trial will be conducted are: Mugda General Hospital, two units (unit 1 and 2) of Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Kurmitola General Hospital, Holy Family Red Crescent Medical College Hospital, Kuwait Bangladesh Friendship Government Hospital and Mohanagar General Hospital. "The vaccine will be administered to the healthcare staffers who are not infected with Covid-19 as they are exposed to the disease. It will be examined whether and how much antibodies against Covid-19 grow in their bodies," Director of Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) Mahmood-uz-jahan told this newspaper on July 19. https://www.thedailystar.net/coronavirus-deadly-new-threat/news/govt-permits-icddrb-run-phase-iii-trial-chinese-covid-19-vaccine-1951841
  14. 12:00 AM, August 27, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:00 AM, August 27, 2020 Kotha app spreads wings to Sri Lanka Mahmudul Hasan Kotha, Bangladesh's maiden social and lifestyle app, is set to embark on a glorious maiden voyage from the Bay of Bengal to Indian Ocean's island Sri Lanka as part of the company's ambitions to be a continental superpower as a social networking service provider. It has finalised a deal with Sri Lankan Next Day Technologies to establish a joint venture company to run the app in the moniker of Katha and the contract will be signed in September. "This is a proud moment for Bangladesh as for the first time a homegrown social media and lifestyle app will now be available in another country," Mahboob Zaman, chairman of Kotha Technologies Limited, told The Daily Star yesterday. Created by a team of Bangladeshi developers, software engineers and data scientists, Kotha has the mind-boggling capability to send messages, make voice calls, order grocery and food, stream music and movies and buy tickets, along with other functionalities. It is similar to South Korea's Kakaotalk, China's WeChat and the Phillippines' Tantan. The beta version of the Kotha app was rolled out on 12 February for both Android and iOS and has so far been downloaded about 1.5 lakh times. "To me, Kotha is our Facebook, our PayPal, Netflix, Twitter and WhatsApp," said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, at the app's launch. Another country has expressed interest in Kotha, according to Zaman. "So we want to spread our app to different countries, particularly in Asia," he added. Katha will have the Sri Lankan languages and customised to suit local preference. Kotha Apps & Technologies, which was initiated in 2015, will provide the full technology support for the Sri Lankan tie-up. "As it is a joint venture, it will not only brighten the image of the country but we will also get a share of the profit," said Tashfin Delwar, chief executive officer of Kotha Technologies. The Sri Lankan company, for now, has an e-commerce business and has a partnership with Dialog Axiata, a telecom company with a subscriber base of about 14 million. It also has a partnership with a top Sri Lankan mobile financial service provider. "So, thousands of Sri Lankan users will be benefited from the platform." The server of the app will also be controlled by Kotha Technology. Delwar said Katha in Sri Lanka will have the same features that are in the app in Bangladesh: chat, post, feeds, free calls, stickers, lifestyle contents. The joint venture latter will partner with different Sri Lankan entities to provide smooth service in payment and different lifestyle products and services. Despite its designs to spread its wings, Kotha's main focus remains in targeting the Bangladeshi population. "Indian government has banned many Chinese apps, including TikTok, and they now want to build a local app to replace them. In many countries around the world, people are preferring local tech platforms," Delwar said. Kotha is constantly reviewing the recommendation of the users and able to provide more customised service for locals than the global tech giants like Facebook and others. "We are a local entity and we know best what the people of this country want," he added. For instance, Kotha on 14 April launched a virtual hospital -- HelloDoc -- where patients can consult doctors through video conferencing and have certain medical tests done at home to help the country fight coronavirus. It also added a feature where users can see hospital information such as the availability of ICU beds in a hospital. Bangladeshi customers are generating a lot of data now by using different digital services and this will soon turn into a minefield, said Zaman, a renowned technology entrepreneur and managing director of DataSoft Systems Bangladesh. Every year, different social media platforms like Facebook and Google are earning thousands of crores of taka from Bangladesh through users' data and that helps the brands connect with their customers as well, Delwar said. If a locally developed platform gets the popularity, the data will be protected and save thousands of crores taka from flying out of the country. "Certainly, data will be the next currency and if we have access to the data, people will experience a drastic change in their lives," said Zaman, also a former president of Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services. On data protection, Delwar said protecting user data is vital and so far, Kotha has handled it dextrously. Kotha is also planning to introduce a new feature where a business account can be opened and it will help build local professional networking and selling products. Small and medium entrepreneurs can sell their products through the app, he added. Besides, there will be a digital marketplace in the app where content creators can sell their digital products and services. To facilitate the service, Kotha is signing a deal with local mobile financial service provider bKash over payment integrating next week. https://www.thedailystar.net/business/news/kotha-app-spreads-wings-sri-lanka-1951705
  15. Dhaka negotiates loan deal with Beijing for Teesta project Shakahwat Hossain | Published: 00:37, Aug 25,2020 | Updated: 16:11, Aug 25,2020 Bangladesh and China are negotiating a loan deal, reportedly irking India, to implement a proposed engineering project on the trans-boundary Teesta River. Bangladesh Water Development Board officials said that they were negotiating for the loan from China worth $938.27 million to implement the proposed ‘Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project’. A feasibility study on the project was completed in 2019 in the country’s northern region that suffers flash floods in the rainy season and draught in the winter due to the unilateral withdrawal of water by India from the Teesta. Feasibility study project director Aziz Muhammad Chowdhury on Thursday told New Age that they highlighted the importance of the project in the past week while responding to queries made by the authorities in China. The Economic Relations Division under the ministry of finance is mediating the negotiation between the WDB and the Chinese authority after the financial assistance was sought for the project in June this year. ERD’s Asia and JEC Wing chief Md Shahriar Kader Siddiky said that they had forwarded to China the information provided by the Water Development Board. The Chinese authority had sought some clarifications, he said without elaborating. Aziz hoped that they would conclude the loan agreement before this December as the government wanted to start implementing the project next year. Bangladesh has been demanding a greater share of the Teesta waters to have higher levels of water in its portion of the river during December and May when the water level goes down creating difficulties for the farmers in the northern region for long. A 50:50 water sharing formula was agreed between India and Bangladesh in 2011 but the agreement is yet to be signed despite repeated requests from Bangladesh, said Md Mahmudur Rahman, member of the Joint Rivers Commission, Bangladesh. The hectic negotiation between Dhaka and Beijing on a possible loan deal on the Teesta project has worried India, according to a report published in the influential Indian daily The Hindu. As the negotiation on the loan deal between Bangladesh and China has been at the centre of a water-sharing negotiation between Dhaka and Delhi, Indian authorities sent foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on a two-day unscheduled visit to Dhaka on August 18-19 amid the pervasive COVID-19 scare. The Hindu report commented that the Chinese loan was a landmark in the Delhi-Dhaka relations as it would seal the fate of the India-Bangladesh Teesta water sharing agreement which failed to take off as India’s plans to offer Bangladesh its share of the water was stuck in a political fight between Delhi and West Bengal. As the water sharing agreement was in decades-old doldrums, the Water Development Board appointed Power Construction Corporation of China, Powerchina in short, in 2016 to conduct a feasibility study on the Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project. The WDB has already prepared a preliminary development project proposal on the basis of the feasibility study. According to the PDPP, the project is aimed at upgrading the socio-economic status of Rangpur by establishing new economic growth points along the both banks of the river by preventing floods and removing slits from the river bed. The Teesta is the fourth largest trans-boundary river to enter Bangladesh from India. Originating in Sikkim in India and entering Bangladesh in Lalmonirhat, the 315-km-long Teesta travels 153 kilometres through half a dozen other districts, including Rangpur, Gaibandha, Nilphamari, Kurigram, before merging with the Jamuna River at Fulchhari. Describing the Teesta as a ‘flashy’ river, the PDPP said that flooding in the Teesta discharged maximum 4,500 cubic metres silts per second in addition to causing serious erosion and scouring in a vast area to destabilise the livelihoods of the area’s people. The PDPP said that the project would yield three times more benefit from the money to be spent to implement the river management project in the country’s one of the poverty-prone areas. Checking flash floods, caused due to the release of water by India, will change the lifestyle of millions of people, it added. A report was published in this daily on September 19 last year that the Teesta was flowing above its danger levels due to heavy onrush of waters from India since the opening of 54 flood gates of the Gajaldoba Barrage. Commissioned by India in 1996, the Gajaldoba Barrage in West Bengal reportedly diverted 85 per cent of the Teesta waters flow in the winter through a link canal to the upper Mahananda River. The Mahananda falls into the Meichi River in Bihar that links the Fulhar River and reaches the Ganges River upstream of the Farakka Barrage. JRC member Mahmudur said that they learnt that there had been two more dozens of structures on the Teesta in India to generate more than 5,000 megawatt electricity. He hastened to add that India never shared the data despite repeated requests. In fact, no JRC meeting was held during the last one decade despite requests from Dhaka on several occasions, according to officials. India has kept the talks on common river water sharing with Bangladesh stalled and held back the signing of a Teesta water sharing agreement. The last water resources minister-level meeting of the Joint Rivers Commission was held in New Delhi in March 2010. Bangladesh has implemented a major irrigation project on the Teesta named Teesta Barrage — a 615-metre-long dam in Lalmonirhat — for irrigation in the lean period. Mantu Kumar Biswas, joint chief of the Planning Wing under the minisrtry of water resources, said that the project helped bring over 5.4 lakh hectares area under irrigation. He said that the proposed Teesta River Comprehensive Management and Restoration Project was a much-needed project, which was now awaiting the finalisation of the loan deal with China. Once the deal is finalished, the ministry would seek approval from the executive committee of the National Economic Council for the development project proforma. Bangladesh water ministry officials said that they had to abandon the construction of another barrage — the Ganges Barrage at Pangsha in Rajbari — following the announcement of its cancellation by prime minister Sheikh Hasina soon after his return from New Delhi in April 2017. In 2015, the PM declared that the Ganges Barrage would be a joint Bangladesh-India project to ensure the uninterrupted natural flows of the Ganges-Padma through Bangladesh. In April 1975, India commissioned the Farakka Barrage to divert Ganges water for flushing the Kolkata port. India’s withdrawal of Ganges waters from the upstream using the Farakka Barrage drastically reduced the river’s water flow into the lower riparian Bangladesh adversely affecting its agriculture, fishery, forestry, navigation, and its industrial growth. The salinity intrusion deep inside Bangladesh due to the low flow in the Ganges also poses a threat to the biodiversity of the Sunderbans, a world heritage site. http://www.newagebd.net/article/114441/dhaka-negotiates-loan-deal-with-beijing
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