Like previous years, rain took its toll on the ongoing Ekushey book fair yesterday, damaging many bookstalls and thousands of books.
Though the exact extent of the damage could not be ascertained immediately, according to the publishers at least 100 stalls out of more than 700 were affected by the sudden downpour.
Among the severely damaged stalls are UPL, Bangla Prokash, Adorn Publication and Anya Prokash.
Although there was protection of tin roofs, the ceilings became damp and water trickled down from top, damaging books. Gusty wind also torn and blew away polythene sheets and fabrics used for protecting books.
Some parts of the Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan remained waterlogged due to the rain, which occurred in two phases in the morning.
While visiting the fair venues yesterday, staffers were seen drying the wet books under the sun and rearranging the stalls.
“We have more than 25,000 books in our pavilion and around 3,000 were damaged,” said Noor-un-Nabi, manager of Bangla Prokash.
Kamruzzaman, assistant manager of UPL, said books worth around Tk 10 lakh were damaged at their stall.
Biswa Kalyan Publication, Sikor Publication, Shirin Publication, Jatiya Sahitya Prokash, Somachar and Anarja Publication also suffered losses.
“Almost half of our 5,000 books got wet,” said Tawhid Shams, a staffer at Biswa Kalyan Publication.
The situation at Little Mag Corner and Children's Corner was no better. Attendants were busy sorting out wet books and drying them.
Due to precaution, some of the stalls avoided disaster. Nalanda, Pearl Publishers and Sikha Prokashani were relatively unscathed.
Publishers of the stalls, who suffered losses, wanted Bangla Academy to be more cautious in future. They complained that the pavilion roofs were not sturdy enough.
“Roofs were not up to the mark. There were holes which allowed water to trickle down,” said Pradip Kumar, manager of Sikor publication. He said he lost around 500 books.
BANGLA ACADEMY'S INITIATIVE
Yesterday, Bangla Academy organised a press conference in the afternoon.
Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the book fair's organising committee, said they had already warned the publishers about rain and asked them to take necessary measures.
Regarding the damage, he said stall owners can claim compensation from insurance companies as insurance coverage was made compulsory for them at this year's book fair.
Besides, he said, the academy has installed two pumping machines with the help of the fire department to remove water.
“This year, only 10 percent stalls were damaged by rain. I think the extent of damage has reduced than that of previous year,” he claimed. “We will take more precautions next year.”