Thursday, May 23, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Book Fair 2024: The messy start

  • Mismanagement surfaces on day 1
  • Half of the stalls remained incomplete
  • Scanners, metal detectors absent
Update : 02 Feb 2024, 09:45 PM

BanglA Academy organizes the country’s largest book fair every year to promote Bengali books, culture, and heritage, spanning the month of February and commemorating the struggle of the Liberation War heroes in 1952. With the spread of enthusiasm among people over the last 10 years, the fair premises were expanded to Suhrawardy Udyan and accommodated the growing number of publishing houses. The authorities also allowed commercial food stalls and provided civic amenities on the fair premises.

However, every year, the Amar Ekushey Boi Mela began with a bit of a mess, except for last year, when all quarters expressed satisfaction with the overall arrangement of the fair.

The mess is back: many visitors expressed displeasure after the inauguration of the book fair on Thursday afternoon when publishers of half of the stalls and pavilions could not finish the decoration. No one came to the Little Mag square in Taltala. Construction materials were left hither and thither, while many visitors were seen smoking carelessly inside the fair.

Entering through the gate of Suhrawardy Udyan adjacent to the TSC roundabout, this reporter saw no security arrangements. Every year, the police used to check the visitors with thermal scanners, magnetic scanners, metal detectors, and installed archways. As a result, no one could enter inside with gaslights, matches, or cigarettes.

The same was the situation at every entry point other than the Institute of Engineers. A scanner was seen at the gate of Ramna Kali Mandir, but it remained malfunctioning; everyone was entering and leaving freely through the gate unrestricted.

After entering through the gate, one might think that the preparations for the fair are still going on. Almost half of the stalls and pavilions were not opened. Others who opened their shops were busy arranging the books.

On January 30, Fair Organizing Committee Member Secretary Dr AKM Mujahidul Islam said that it would take two to three days to arrange everything. Publishers, readers, and salespersons have put the blame on the delay in the stall allotment for the situation.

Sakib Raihan came to visit the fair from Shankhari Bazar in Old Dhaka. He was irked by the lack of security arrangements and overall mismanagement on the fair premises and suggested starting the preparations early.

AKM Kamrul, executive director of University Press Limited, observed that the time given after the allotment of stalls was not enough. “If the allotment was given a few days earlier, everyone could have completed preparations, and the fair would have been beautiful. Last year, the allotment was conducted earlier, and we got to see a beautiful fair from the beginning.”

He also demanded to keep the metro rail running till 10pm.

“The fair is likely to draw a huge crowd due to the improvement of the communication system. As a result, readers can easily come from Uttara and Mirpur. If the metro rail is kept operational till 10pm, those working in the fair can benefit a lot,” he added.

Sajid Ahmed, salesman at Katha Prakash, said: “I have attended the book fair for the last three years. In the beginning, the fair is always chaotic. But last year, we had more time and saw a beautiful fair. Bangla Academy should allocate stalls a little earlier.”

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