Medical &Health

Eushey Book Fair set to begin Thursday amid worrying Covid spike

After the postponement during its traditional month of February, the Amar Ekushey Book Fair-2021 finally begins on Thursday at the Bangla Academy premises and the adjacent venue at Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.

Bangla Academy disclosed the details of the fair at a press conference at its AKSB Auditorium on Tuesday.

Addressing the event, State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid said the fair could be postponed or even cancelled if the Covid-19 situation worsens in the following days.

Director General of Bangla Academy Habibullah Siraji and book fair organising committee member secretary Dr Jalal Ahmed shared the event details with reporters.

This year’s fair will be dedicated to the memories of the martyrs of 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The main theme of the 2021 fair is “Birth Centenary of Father of Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Golden Jubilee of Independence”.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will virtually inaugurate the fair from Ganobhaban.

She will unveil the cover of ‘New China 1952’, the official English version of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman written book ‘Amar Dekha Noya Chin’, published by Bangla Academy.

The Prime Minister will also distribute the Bangla Academy Literary Award 2020 among recipients at the inaugural ceremony.

Bangla Academy DG Habibullah Siraji said although there was uncertainty regarding this year’s fair, the academy is now ready to arrange the month-long fair with all the necessary precautions for the booklovers in the country.

Considering the Covid-19 social-distancing requirements, the land earmarked for this year’s fair has been expanded to 15, 00,000 sq. ft. A total of 834 units have been allocated to 540 organisations this year.

However, the fair authorities have decided not to have the traditional ‘Shishu Prohor’ event, dedicated to the children, on the inaugural day of the fair, and the children’s corner has been shifted to Suhrawardy Udyan this year.

The authorities have allotted 154 units of the Bangla Academy ground to 107 organisations and 680 units of the Suhrawardy Udyan to 433 organisations for the 2021 fair.

There will be 33 pavilions at the fair, while the ‘Little Mag Corner’ has been entirely shifted to the Suhrawardy Udyan.

Publishers from all over the country will participate in the fair with a wide variety of books, while Bangla Academy will exhibit 115 newly-printed and reprinted books at this year’s fair.

Dr Jalal Ahmed said that all the necessary precautions have been taken to make the fair secure, in terms of preventing the infection risks.

Hand sanitisation booths will be set at all the entrances for the visitors, who must have to be masked up all the time during their presence at the fair.

Seminars will be held at the main stage of the fair venue at 4pm every day from March 19 to April 14, followed by cultural events.

To prevent the hassle of the fair-goers due to possible inclement weather, there will be 4 emergency shelters at Suhrawardy Udyan.

The number of volunteers and necessary amenities has been increased this year to ensure adequate support for the booklovers.

The fair venue was first extended to Suhrawardy Udyan in 2013 to accommodate more participants.

Earlier, the 2021 fair had been postponed to avoid the contamination risks of Covid-19, and also there had been talks to hold this year’s fair virtually.

Alongside all the necessary health precautions, there will be strict security arrangements in and around the venue to prevent any unpleasant incidents, according to Krishna Pada Roy, additional police commissioner (crimes and operations) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

‘Chittaranjan Saha Memorial Award’ will be distributed among the best publishers, while ‘Munir Chowdhury Memorial Award will be conferred upon three organizations for publishing the best books in the 2020 fair’, ‘Rokanuzzaman Khan Dadabhai Memorial Award will be awarded to the best children book, and ‘Artist Qayyum Chowdhury Memorial Award’ for showing artistic intelligence at stall building, will be announced at the fair.

The month-long book fair is arranged every year in February commemorating the sacrifices of those who laid down their lives on February 21, 1952 for establishing Bangla as the mother tongue.

The traditional Amar Ekushey Book Fair began informally in 1972 at the Bangla Academy premises; however, the academy officially took the responsibility to arrange the fair regularly, every year since 1978.

It was then named as ‘Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela’ and a guideline was laid out in this regard in 1984.

The fair will remain open from 3 pm to 9 pm on weekdays, from 11am to 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, from 8am to 9pm till April 14, the organisers said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh