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Ekushey Book Fair begins today

Sardar Mahabbat Ali

Publishers are busy with the last-minute preparations for Amar Ekushey Book Fair scheduled to begin at the Bangla Academy today. — New Age photo
 Publishers are busy with the last-minute preparations for Amar Ekushey Book Fair scheduled to begin at the Bangla Academy today. — New Age photo

Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2014, this time extended into Suhrawardy Udyan from the Bangla Academy begins today, organisers said.
Two hundred and ninety-nine publishing houses, government, non-government and autonomous organisations and socio-cultural groups are taking part in the fair this year. The fair in the past year housed 274 institutions inside the academy.
The organisers allotted 534 stall units to 232 publishing houses in Suhrawardy Udyan and 33 units to 24 houses involved in the publication of children and juvenile literature and 69 units to 43 others on the academy premises.
Fifty-five little magazine publishers were given a corner inside the academy and the corner is dedicated to the late poet Khandakar Ashraf Hossain, who was vice-chancellor of Jatiya Kabi Nazrul Islam University in Mymensingh. Ashraf Hossain was also a former teacher of English in Dhaka University.
The cultural affairs minister, Asaduzzaman Noor, in keeping with a decision made at a meeting on January 20, approved the proposal for the expansion of the fair into Suhrawardy Udyan to ‘make the fair more organised and congenial to bookworms.’
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is scheduled to inaugurate the fair at 3:00pm today. The cultural affair minister will address the inaugural session as special guest.
The academy’s director general Shamuzzaman Khan will deliver the welcome address and professor emeritus Anisuzzaman, the academy’s chairman, will preside over the programme.
The 31st Amar Ekushey Book Fair is dedicated to the late Muhammad Habibur Rahman, a former chief justice and former caretaker government chief adviser.
Winners of the Bangla Academy Literary Award 2013, named on Thursday, would receive cheques for Tk 1 lakh each, crests and certificates from the prime minister. The internationally acclaimed Bangladeshi mime artiste Partha Pratim Majumder will be awarded a honorary fellowship on the occasion.
The academy this time failed to allot stalls to participants by January 23 in breach of Section 12.3 and 12.4 of the fair rules and regulations.
The academy’s director general Shamuzzaman Khan said that the publishers could not be allotted stalls in time because of the belated decision on the expansion of the fair ground.
Regarding the Bangladesh Nationalist Party plan to hold a rally in Suhrawardy Udyan for which the party has sought permission, Shamsuzzaman asked political parties not to create any disturbance in the fair ground.
In reply to a question about security measures, he said, ‘We may not be completely successful this time. But we will try our best to keep law and order in the fair.’
Security measures on the fair premises will be beefed up, the academy’s secretary Altaf Hossain said adding that there would be sanitary and drinking water facilities for visitors.
An adequate number of law enforcers, including the Rapid Action Battalion personnel, would be deployed to head off any untoward situation, he said.
Four archways — two in front of the Atomic Energy Commission and the other two in front of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science in Dhaka University — would be set up in the entry points.
A corner for the children has also been decorated in front of Nazrul Mancha.
The date for children’s hour, a day or part of a day only for children, would be announced soon, the fair organising committee’s member secretary Shahida Khatun said.
Two awards — Chhittaranjan Saha Memorial Award and Munier Chowdhury Memorial Award — would be given to the best publishers for quality publications in 2013.
Besides Nazrul Mancha, where new titles are launched, several corners have been dedicated to language movement martyrs as was done in the past. Several private television channels will cover the event live every day.
Discussions and cultural programmes will be held on the main stage inside the academy throughout the month, highlighting the life and works of scholars in the Bangla literature, national and political issues and development, Shamuzzaman said.
The academy will a 30 per cent discount on its books while other publishers will give 25 per cent. Wi-fi facilities will be available at the fair.
The road divider between the academy and Suhrawardy Udyan will be adjoined in front of the gate to the Ramna Kali Temple.
The book fair will remain open to visitors between 3:00pm and 9:00pm every day and between 11:00am and 9:00pm on holidays. On February 21, the fair will remain open from 8:00am till 9:00pm.

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