Game changer

By KM Golam Rabbani

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Chilmari upazila is a river port of Kurigram district. It is a remote and poverty-stricken area located by the river Brahmaputra. Several thousand people become homeless in the area every year following erosion of the mighty river. This forces most of the population to opt for different livelihood after moving to cities to be rickshaw pullers and day labourers.

Rangpur Dinajpur Rural Service (RDRS), a popular non-government organisation that has been working in the country including Kurigram district since 1972, came up with the idea of a community radio in the region to improve the lifestyle of the poverty-stricken people through better communication and information. This brought about the idea and implementation of community radio Chilmari, FM 99.2.

The people of Chilmari could not believe that a radio would be opened in such a rural area even after the RDRS won the approval to set up a community radio from the ministry of information on November 2, 2011.

The construction work of the two storied building of Radio Chilmari started at Mistripara area under Ramna union of the upazila began soon after the approval. Regular radio programme formally started from June 02, 2012.

Initially, during the test launch, the radio broadcasted patriotic songs. People of the area had almost forgotten listening to a radio and many started to search and purchase radioes to listen to songs on the community channel. Some also began to tune the station from their respective mobile phones.

The radio Chilmari authority is at present broadcasting various programmes and people of the region are listening to radio programmes regularly including Krishi Aro Beshi, Nari Kotha, Safolla Gatha, local development news, Horek Rong, Alo Amar Alo, disaster and environment, Khola Janala, ‘Believe it or not’, Mohot Jibon, Biggan Chitona, Pranar gaan, Pothay ghatey,Jonotar Kotha, Jolsha,Supta Sur, Susto deho susto mon, Amader union parishad, Jot bather golpo, Charer Jibon and more.

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Surprisingly the radio station has four officials. Bashir Ahmed is the station in-charge, Panchanon Roy and S.I. Hashu Miah are serving as junior producers and SM Nurul Amin Sarkar is the news editor. In addition there are presenters and programme producers who carry out the work of performing the broadcast activities.

Already the radio station is making a difference for its audience. Local farmers are being benefitted from the radio as they are applying various information and advice in their respective agriculture sector after listening to the news and agriculture advices on the radio station.

Earlier many farmers did not know how to protect Boro seedlings from insects during the winter season. They can now learn a number of techniques from local agriculturists through the programmes.

Many illiterate people who earlier did not want to go to doctors and settled with the advices they received from kabiraaj are now becoming more aware after listening to advice from doctors who give health tips from different programmes.

There is also a fan club (Radio listeners club) which has 85 members including farmers, housewives, students, teachers, fishermen, youths, quacks, public representatives, reporters and development activists.

Radio Chilmari is playing a vital role at materialising the dream of people of this region as nearly five lakh people from Chilmari, Roumari, Rajibpur and Ulipur upazila in the district and Sundarganj upazila in Gaibandha district are being benefitted through the information and entertainment being aired through the channel.

The author is the Kurigram correspondent of New Age