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Thakurgaon once backward now a hub of dev

Published : 19 Jul 2023 01:38 AM | Updated : 19 Jul 2023 12:15 PM

Thakurgaon, the northernmost district of the country, has long been known for its dependence on agriculture and some agro-based products with few industries.

That has changed now.

In the past 14 and a half years of the Awami League rule the otherwise backward region has witnessed radical changes in development, infrastructure, education, health, medical services, business and employment. Tea and corn cultivation have added new feathers to its development crown.

During this time the touch of development has reached from the cities to the remote villages.  

The people in the region have found new employment and ways of livelihood, according to local residents and officials.

As one resident said Thakurgaon is now a town of development.

According to the information of the district administration, some 15.33 lakh people live in Thakurgaon. In the last decade and a half, the education rate has increased from 66.5 percent to 86 percent. 

Most of the people here earlier made a living by producing rice, sugarcane, jute and potatoes. But the Thakurgaon sugar mills stopped production in 2002 during the BNP-Jamaat government. It also closed down the silk factory in the district.

In 2008, there were 83 km of pucca(paved) roads in Thakurgaon under the road division. Four roads of 120 km length have been built during 2009-23. 

Until 2008, some 445 km of rural pucca roads were built under the LGED. A number of 480 pucca roads with a length of 1,155 km have been constructed during the tenure of the current government.

Radical changes have also occurred in rail communication. Due to the establishment of modern railway communication with other districts, six trains operate daily- five of them inter-city.

"Since the current government took over, almost all the rural roads in our Upazila have been made pucca. Common people have benefited from it. Marginal farmers are able to market their produce easily. Because of this their financial situation is improving,” Sohel Rana, a resident of Ranishankail upazila, told UNB during a tour of the area.

After the Awami League came to power in 1996, under the guidance of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, tea gardens were planted for the first time in the plains of neighbouringPanchagarh district. 

Tea has become one of the main sources of livelihood for the people of Panchagarh. The wave of tea cultivation has now spread to the neighboring district of Thakurgaon. 

Tea production started here for the first time in 2007. Most tea cultivation is done in Baliadangi upazila of the district. 

According to the information given by the district administration, tea is cultivated on 1,457 acres of land. It generates an annual income of Tk 40 crore. Some 3,000 people have been directly and indirectly employed in the cultivation and production of tea in the region.

In 2006, when the BNP-Jamaat alliance left power, Thakurgaon had only 30 MW of electricity. Most of the people in the district were without electricity. 

After the Awami League came to power in 2009, the picture has changed. The demand for electricity has increased due to the planned activities of the government. 

An 115MW independent power plant has been in operation in Thakurgaon since 2022.  As a result, hundred percent of the people of this district are now enjoying electricity facilities. 

New factories are being built in the district. Small cottage industries have been facilitated, the opportunities for marginalised people are growing and new employment sectors have been created. 

Not only that, uninterrupted power supply has also improved the services in the health sector.

According to Thakurgaon district administration, a power generation plant named EPV Thakurgaon Limited was established in 2022 at Gauripur in Jagannathpur union of Sadar upazila. 

It has already been possible to bring hundred percent of the people of this district under electricity service through Nesco and PalliVidyutSamiti from this power station and national grid electricity. Currently, the electricity supply in the district is 104 MW. 

In 2006, there were only 91,112 electricity consumers. The number of customers has now increased to 4,18,091.

Manager (operation) of the power plant Zahidul Islam told the media on July 9 that the production capacity of the power plant is 132 megawatts. The peak hour demand is 114 MW. But as per the contract, 115 MW of electricity is now being produced. 

“It meets the electricity demand of the entire Thakurgaon,” Deputy Commissioner Mahbubur Rahman told reporters in a recent interview.

He also said that the establishment of the power plant has enabled the authorities to reach electricity to the rural areas here. 

“There is now electricity in every house with factories and projects in the district. Industrialization is going on around this plant where the production is more than the demand. In economic activities, socio-economic conditions are progressing due to this power plant. The power plant has proved blessings for the area.”

At independence in 1971 Thakurgaon district had only 369 primary schools. The post-1975 governments did not take much initiative in setting up new schools. 

As of 2006, there were 429 primary schools. But this changed after the Awami League came to power. Currently there are 999 primary schools in the district. 

In 2006, the number of secondary schools, colleges, madrasas and technical educational institutions were 346, 35, 65 and 7 respectively. 

At present this number has increased to 366, 60, 123 and 27 respectively. 

The government has taken new steps to improve the quality of education. Multimedia class rooms, cent percent scholarship to students, setting up of Sheikh Russell digital lab, digital smart classrooms, construction of wash block in every school, construction of boundary wall, distribution of laptops among students, Wi-Fi connection in schools are among the new additions in this sector.

During a visit toThakurgaon Road Girls High School on July 9 a team of journalists saw the students are able to use multimedia classes easily due to uninterrupted electricity. 

Various computer related subjects are being taught hands-on at Sheikh Russell Digital Lab. Students of this school are attending classes in a digital smart classroom. 

MaisaFarzana, a 10th grade student, said that she can open Google ID, Gmail ID. Apart from this, in the school's Sheikh Russell Digital Lab she has acquired the basic understanding of computers including Microsoft Word.

Since the establishment of the lab in 2022, the girls have been given hands-on ICT education, said Headmaster Kofil Uddin. 

He told the media that attendance is increasing. As the government provides digital materials, students are paying attention to digital teaching and taking classes in multimedia.

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