Author Archives: admin

Covid-19

Corona Lockdown in Dhaka

Dhaka, the city I live in is a highly populated city of 21 million, with a density of 23,234 people per square kilometer. So it is very difficult to maintain the social distancing and prevent other related medical emergencies during the corona pandemic.

Government declared lockdown from 26 March 2020 which is still in place. All the industries, public transportation services, offices, market places have been closed. Only health services, medicine and food supply, press and media and other emergency services are operating. Grocery shops and pharmacies are open for limited hours. Law enforcement agencies are trying to control the movement of people and vehicles in the city, but the number of fatalities is increasing by day.

The first 3 corona cases were reported on 8 March 2020. Now the statistics show over 30,000 confirmed cases and 432 deaths (until 22 May), while Bangladesh has one of the lowest testing rates in the world. The infected include 1000 health workers, 1548 policemen and 60 journalists. Many hospitals have been locked down in attempts to control spread. I lost a friend’s father to COVID-19 last week, he himself, his wife and his 3 year old child are now infected.

It is very difficult to work during this unprecedented situation given safe distance and personal protection ought to be maintained to avoid an infection. All the faces are covered with masks; only eyes are visible but no expressions. 

I like to get close to my subjects, talk to them and take photos, but now I am having to maintain distance and use tele lenses. Every time I go outside and back to home, I cannot help but panic that lasts the following few days whether I have been infected or am spreading the virus to others.

The lockdown has given the city a new peaceful look. The streets are empty, markets are closed, silence prevails everywhere, as there is no vehicle horn or sound of traffic. The air is fresh and free from pollution as if the city is healing itself.

I live in Mirpur which has been mostly overcrowded and is a densely populated area of Dhaka, mostly low- and mid-income people live here. During lockdown day labourers and low-income people are mainly facing crisis in respect of their daily livelihood. The government attempted to give reliefs but this was not sufficient and still many people are in crisis. Many organization and people are helping personally.

I salute the front-line health workers who are enduring face to face encounters with the virus and its impact, the policemen who are trying to contain its spread and also the journalist who are keeping us updated of the relevant daily developments by risking their own lives. 

This corona situation gives us the time to look at ourselves and decide what is important. It allows us to reflect upon what kind of civilization we have made and what we have done to nature. We cannot live well alone, the world is connected like it was never before. Our priority should be to live by helping others and fight together for pandemic crisis to climate change issues we have.

Tale of an Ancient River

The Buriganga river (old Ganga) is the main river flowing through Dhaka city, capital of Bangladesh. Hundreds of years ago, the banks of the Buriganga was a prime location when the Mughals made Dhaka their capital in 1610. The house-turned-museum of the then Nawab(ruler) overlooks the river, which is still the country’s main waterway for trading and ferry travel. It was once the main source of drinking water for Dhaka’s residents.

Due to intense human and industrial activity, the river has become so polluted that the water has turned pitch black and has a glue-like consistency. Much of Buriganga is biologically dead. Thousands of people who live on the bank of the river continue to use this highly contaminated water to wash, bath and even to drink.

According to the Environment Department, up to 40,000 tons of tannery waste flows into the river daily along with sewage from Dhaka, a city of more than 10 million. Human waste is responsible for 60 percent of pollution in the river, followed by industrial waste at 30 percent. The rest is solid waste. Illegal structures also have sprung up along its banks, narrowing the river.

The river is slowly dying  because of pollution and possession. But the river is an important resource for the people, who depend on it, as well as a valuable asset for all humanity. Still no significant changes were initiated to give life back to this river by protecting industrial and human made pollution and degradation.

In 2017, the government adopted a plan to maintain the navigability and normal flow of Buriganga and remove all illegal structures on its banks. This year almost 250 tanneries were relocated to a new Leather Industrial Estate (LIE) at Savar. This will perhaps ensure the water to slowly improve day by day, which gives hope the Buringanga will live again. Although much more such initiatives ought to be undertaken if Buriganga is to be saved.

A Parade of the Mutes

A parade encompassing the elderly, the young, the women, the children. Muted by brutal violence, uprooted and displaced by force; they walk barefoot in the scorching heat of the sun, forced to journey 1000s of miles with no shade to rest under. The eyes of the mute still speak the tales of horror they have experienced and witnessed, the memories haunt them as they march on.. in barefoot.. under the scorching sun.

Since August 25, 2017, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims have fled Burma’s Rakhine State risking death by sea or on foot,to escape mass atrocities by government security forces. An estimated one-third of Burma’s Rohingya population of 1.2 million have crossed into neighbouring Bangladesh in recent weeks, while tens of thousands remain internally displaced inside Burma, without access to vital humanitarian aid.

Amnesty International says the Myanmar military has killed hundreds of Rohingya and raped and abused Rohingya women and girls.At least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine state after August 2017, according to analysis of satellite imagery by Human Rights Watch.

The Rohingya have faced decades of discrimination and repression under successive Burmese governments. Effectively denied citizenship under the 1982 Citizenship Law, they are one of the largest stateless populations in the world. Restrictions on movement and lack of access to basic health care have led to dire humanitarian conditions for those displaced by earlier waves of violence in 2012 and 2016.

The UN says the Rohingya’s situation is the “world’s fastest growing refugee crisis”.Before August, there were already around 307,500 Rohingya refugees living in camps, makeshift settlements and with host communities in Cox’s bazar according to the UNHCR. Of the 537,000 refugees who have arrived since August 58% are children, while 60% of the adults are women.Most Rohingya refugees reaching Bangladesh- men, women and children with barely any belongings – have sought shelter in these areas, setting up camp wherever possible in the difficult terrain and with little access to aid, safe drinking water, food, shelter and healthcare.

Shadow of Death