Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has inaugurated the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair-2021 on Bangla Academy premises and at Suhrawardy Udyan virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban.
At the inaugural function, the Prime Minister unveiled the book "New China-1952," the English version of "Amar Dekha Naya Chin" written by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Besides, the premier also handed over the prizes among the recipients of the Bangla Academy Literary Award-2020.
During her inauguration speech, the prime minister noted that March is an important month for Bangladesh.
She also said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had a pivotal contribution to the 1952 language movement.
"Bangabandhu has led every movement since 1948, starting from the language movement," she said.
The Prime Minister also said the anti-liberal forces have tried to erase Bangabandhu's contribution to the language movement.
"Even in captivity he (Bangabandhu) maintained contact with the protesting students in 1952," she said.
Earlier, the Prime Minister apologised for not being present at the inaugural event in person as she did not want to increase the crowd in the fair ground.
The Prime Minister also highlighted that the publishers and writers have also suffered greatly from the Covid-19 pandemic and the book fair is important for readers and publishers alike.
"I would urge everyone to follow the hygiene rules. In some cases, the coronavirus has taken on deadly proportions. We have kept it under control though and more than 4.5 million vaccine doses have been given. Nevertheless, keep yourself safe," she said.
The minister urged everyone to be careful to ensure that the new generation grows into the habit of reading books.
Bangla Academy President Prof Shamsuzzaman Khan presided over the inaugural function while Bangla Academy director general Habibullah Siraji delivered the welcome speech.
Though the month-long fair is usually held in February commemorating the 1952 Language Movement, this year the fair has been delayed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the 28-day long book fair, which is supposed to be continued till April 14, can be shut down anytime, if the pandemic situation gets worse, said State Minister for Culture Affairs KM Khalid at the press conference.
The birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the golden jubilee of independence has been set up as the main theme of Amar Ekushey Granthamela 2021.
For the first time, there will be an entry-point and parking arrangement beside the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) along with the other three entry points at the Suhrawardy Udyan.
Besides, emergency shelter centers have been set up on Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan premises adjacent to the entry points considering the possible rain and storm during the 28-day long fair.
The visitors have to strictly maintain the health guidelines for entering the fair premises while there will be arrangements for temperature test, hand washing and sanitising on fair ground.
The book fair will remain open for all from 3 pm to 9 pm on working days and 8:30 am to 9 pm on public holidays with a one-hour break for lunch and offering prayers.
This year, the land earmarked for the fair has been expanded to 15,00,000 square ft which was 8,00,000 square ft in 2020. A total of 834 units have been allocated to 540 organizations while it was 873 units to 560 organizations in the last year.
The authorities have allotted 154 units at the Bangla Academy ground to 107 organizations, and 680 units at the Suhrawardy Udyan to 433 organizations.
Moreover, a total of 34 pavilions have been allocated this year.
Apart from this, there will be 140 stalls at Little Magazine Chattar which was 155 in 2020