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PV Desk

The month-long “Amar Ekushey Grantha Mela 2024”, the country’s largest book fair, is going to begin on its traditional date of  the first day of February this year.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to open the fair to be held under  the auspices of Bangla Academy on its premises and Suhrawardy Udyan on  February 1 at 3 pm,” Member Secretary of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair Committee Dr KM Muzahidul Islam told BSS.

A total of 895 stalls have been allocated to 573 organizations. Among them  786 are general stalls while 109 stalls will be dedicated to little magazine  chattar, said Muzahidul.

Moreover, a total of 37 pavilions have been allocated this year. Last year, a total of 901 stalls were allocated in favour of 601 organizations.

This year, the entire work of the fair is being done by Bangla Academy alone to avoid any criticism, said Muzahidul, adding, “In the previous years, some event management companies were involved in fair arrangements which faced some criticism last year”.

The preparation for the fair started soon after the end of the last fair and  committees have been formulated in three-phase – committee for preparation phase, committee for inaugural ceremony and separate committees for conducting the month-long fair.

Along with cultural programmes and month-long seminars, there will be arrangements for children and teenagers which include drawing, music and recitation competitions.

Stall allotment for old and newly enlisted publications was done through a digitalized lottery system on January 23, said the organizers.

Meanwhile, besides the enlisted 601 organizations, some 70 new publications have applied to get stall allocation responding to the notice. Among them, 23 new publications got selected.

Like previous years, the main stage of the fair will be on the Bangla Academy premises while book unwrapping and ‘Lekhak Bolchi’ stages will be set up on Suhrawardi Udyan premises, said Mujahidul. ‘Shishu Chattar’ has also been set up in Sadhu Shanga area beside the Ramna Kali Temple.

For notable contributions to various aspects of Bangla literature, this year, the Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 will be given to 16 individuals in 11 categories- poetry, fiction, essay/research, translation, drama, children’s literature category, Liberation War, Bangabandhu, environment/science field, biography and folklore.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will hand over the awards at the inaugural ceremony of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair-2024 scheduled to begin on February 1, said the release.

The award recipients are: Shamim Azad (poetry), Novelists Nuruddin Jahangir and Salma Bani (jointly in fiction), Zulfikar Matin (essay/research), Saleha Chowdhury (translation), Playwrights Mrittika Chakma and Masud Pathik (jointly in drama), Tapankar Chakrabarty (children’s literature), Afroza Parvin and Asaduzzaman Asad (research on the Liberation War), Saifullah
Mahmud Dulal and Md Mojibur Rahman (research on Bangabandhu), ornithologist Inam Al Haque (environment/science field), Ishak Khan (biography) and Tapan Bagchi and Suman Kumar Das (jointly in folklore).

Meanwhile, Dhaka Metropolitan Police has taken all measures like the previous years to ensure foolproof security of the Fair considering current political situation and challenges caused from operation of the metro rail in the book fair area.

Militancy, arson attacks and traffic management are among the main challenges centering the book fair, DMP said in a press release after a meeting with senior police officials.

DMP observed that Metrorail service has appeared as a new challenge as it was noticed that miscreants have been trying to carry out sabotages on the Metrorail.

However, DMP will deploy a sufficient number of police personnel in both uniform and plain cloth inside and outside the book fair ground while a watch tower and fire tender will be set up to monitor everything around the fair venue, he said.

Besides, the fairground and its surroundings will be monitored round the clock with CCTV cameras and drones, DMP commissioner said. Team of DMP will sweep the whole venue while social media will be monitored to thwart rumours.