An overcrowded boat carrying about 138 Rohingya refugees from Bangladeshi camps sank in the Bay of Bengal, leaving at least 15 confirmed dead, mostly women. The death toll later rose to 21. The coast guard, navy divers and other rescuers recovered dozens bodies after the wooden boat capsized off St. Martin's Island, the top elected official on the island said to journalists.

Noor Ahmed said by phone from the scene that 71 refugees on the boat survived. It was unclear how many remained missing. The passengers were enticed by traffickers to board the boat from various points as it headed for Malaysia, he said. Iqbal Hossain, a police superintendent in Cox's Bazar, said by phone the overcrowding of the boat, which may have also been carrying additional cargo, caused it to capsize.

In a move that stunned many, the Awami League chose Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, joint general secretary of the party's Chattogram city unit, instead of incumbent mayor AJM Nasir Uddin, to contest the Chittagong City Corporation mayoral election. The ruling party also nominated former president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin for by-polls in Dhaka-10 parliamentary constituency.

Besides, Umme Kulsum Smrity was picked for the Gaibandha-3 by-election, while Shahin Chakladar was chosen for Jashore-6, Amirul Islam Milon for Bagerhat-4 and Sahadara Mannan, wife of late lawmaker Abdul Mannan, for Bogura-1. The decisions were taken at a joint meeting of the AL Parliamentary Board and the AL Local Government Nomination Board. AL President and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting at the Gono Bhaban. The by-elections in Gaibandha-3, Bagerhat-4 and Dhaka-10 constituencies will be held on March 21.

The High Court questioned the legality of Section 42 of the Public Service Act-2018, according to which a civil servant will not be dismissed for criminal offences unless they are sentenced to at least one-year imprisonment. The court issued a rule asking the authorities concerned of the government to explain in four weeks why the section should not be declared illegal and unconstitutional. The bench of Justice Tariq ul Hakim and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir came up with the rule following a writ petition filed by a rights organisation.

Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) filed the petition with the HC on February 9 challenging the legality of the provision of the law. The organisation also said in the petition that a gazette notification on the Public Service Act-2018 was issued on November 14, 2018 incorporating Section 42.

Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority has proposed hiking water price by 80 percent for residential and commercial uses. Amid allegations of poor quality of tap water in the mega city, Wasa sent a proposal to the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD) for increasing water prices last September.

Wasa has proposed Tk 20 for each unit (1,000 litre) of water for residential use, while the existing price is Tk 11.57. For commercial purpose, it has recommended Tk 65 against the existing rate of Tk 37.04. Wasa said it has become necessary to hike water price to pay the loans taken for implementation and maintenance of different development projects. Besides, water production costs have gone up. Water price was increased by 22 percent and 18 percent for residential and commercial uses respectively in 2017. The price of each unit of Wasa water was only Tk 6 in 2009, when the Awami League came to power.

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