Mango harvest to start in Rajshahi from May 15

This season’s mango harvest in Rajshahi will start from May 15.

Rajshahi district administration took the decision in a virtual meeting with mango experts and growers in the afternoon. Rajshahi’s deputy commissioner Abdul Jalil chaired the meeting.

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The harvesting will start two weeks ahead of proper time, considering the prevailing drought in the region, our staff correspondent reports.

Dr Alim Uddin, principal scientific officer of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, said, “This year the mangoes can ripen in advance. Because the rainfall was low and a drought is prevailing.”

Dr Alim who attended the meeting said, usually the proper harvest time for the mangoes starts from the first week of June but the dates were fixed in advance this season so that the growers can harvest ripe mangoes in time.

“All mangoes of a tree don’t ripe in a day,” he said.

He said the growers were given the liberty of harvesting mangoes ahead of the scheduled dates if any tree yields mangoes before the given time.

In such cases, the growers will have to consult with local agricultural offices for permission of harvesting, he added.

According to the harvest schedules, growers can harvest Guti variety of mangoes from May 15 and Gopalbhog from May 20.

The date for harvesting Laxmanbhog (Laukhna) and Ranipasand varieties of mangoes has been fixed for May 25.

Khirsapat (Himsagar) variety of mangoes can be harvested from May 28, and Langra variety on June 6.

Amrapali and Fazli varieties on June 15 while Ashwina and BARI Mango-4 from July 10.

Shafiqul Islam, a mango producer of Rajshahi’s Bagha upazila, said they had to wait for at least two weeks last year to begin harvest although the district administration back then fixed the harvest date in the middle of May.


Cambodia convicts 5 environmentalists over plan to march to PM’s home

A Cambodian court sentenced five environmental activists for up to 20 months in jail today for incitement to commit crimes, over their attempts to organise a march to the prime minister’s residence to protest the filling-in of a city lake.

The activists, all members of the conservation group Mother Nature, were jailed for between 18 and 20 months for incitement to commit a felony or disturb social order, court spokesman Y Rin said.

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Two of the defendants were sentenced in absentia, one of them Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, the group’s Spanish founder, who was also charged with conspiracy to incite crimes.

Three Mother Nature members were arrested in September 2020 over the planned march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to show concern about the filling-in and development of Boeung Tamok lake, the largest lake in the capital Phnom Penh, according to local human rights group Licadho.

Licadho said the trial was based largely on publicly available comments and material on Mother Nature’s Facebook account, none of which constituted incitement.

Activists say environmental campaigners have been targeted in Cambodia for speaking up about issues like illegal logging and alleged collusion between politicians and businesses to exploit the country’s natural resources.

Eerlynne Gil, deputy regional director for research at Amnesty International, called the verdict an “outrageous conviction” aimed at silencing human rights defenders who were trying to protect environmental resources.

“It serves as a threat to any young person who dares to stand up for human rights and environmental justice in Cambodia,” Gil said.

Gonzalez-Davidson, who is not in Cambodia, said the verdict was “utterly unjust and shocking” and said Hun Sen’s government was fighting to maintain its grip on power.

“The last tool they have now is terror, which includes sentencing completely innocent young Cambodians to lengthy jail sentences,” Gonzalez-Davidson told Reuters in text message.

U.S. Ambassador Patrick Murphy in a Tweet expressed deep concern.

“Speaking up to protect #Cambodia’s environment, threatened by illegal logging & exploitation, is admirable,” he said.


Apex court upholds HC orders to stop activities of MAAR Ltd in Habiganj

The Supreme Court today upheld a High Court order that asked the government to stop the operations of Maizea Advance Agro Refinery (MAAR) Limited, a dry starch powder producing company, for polluting environment at Shahpur area in Habiganj’s Madhabpur upazila.

A six-member bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain dismissed a leave to appeal petition filed by MAAR Limited challenging the HC directive.

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Following a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), the HC on March 15 this year ordered the government to immediately stop the functions of MAAR Limited.

At the same time, the HC asked the authorities concerned to assess the environmental and ecological damage caused by MAAR Ltd in the area and to submit the assessment report before this court in 60 days on receiving a copy of the order.

Director General of Department of Environment (DoE), deputy commissioner of Habiganj, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Madhabpur, Director (monitoring and enforcement) of DoE and Director of DoE, Sylhet, have been asked to comply with the directive.

The HC also issued a rule asking 10 respondents including the five officials to explain in four weeks why their failure to stop the unauthorised, dangerous and polluting activities of MAAR Ltd should not be declared illegal and against public interest.

In the rule, the court asked the respondents to show causes why they should not be directed to relocate the industry (MAAR Ltd) from the area to an industrial area and to take steps to protect Ekhtiarpur Khal (canal) from the pollution of the industry.    

Five other respondents of the rule are: secretary to the ministry of environment, forest and climate change, superintendent of police of Habiganj, upazila chairman of Madhabpur, officer in charge of Madhabpur police station and owner of MAAR Ltd.

In the petition, Bela said the MAAR Ltd has been damaging and polluting the environment of the area by producing liquid waste and dumping them into water of Ekhtiarpur Khal for a long period of time.

The DoE has fined MAAR Ltd Tk 17.1 lakh in 2017 and Tk 35.8 lakh in 2018 for polluting and damaging the environment, the petitioner said in the petition.

Later on, MAAR Limited filed a writ petition with the Appellate Division challenging the HC directives.

Lawyers Minhazul Haque Chowdhury Hasan appeared for Bela while lawyer MK Rahman argued for MAAR Limited during hearing of the leave to appeal petition.


50 trees cut down in Patuakhali; local AL leaders blamed

At least 50 government owned trees planted on both sides of a road have been cut down at Dhulia in Patuakhali’s Baufal upazila.

Dhulia Union Parishad Chairman Anichur Rahman lodged a written complaint with the upazila engineer of Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) on April 24.

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The UP chairman in a written complaint said Dhulia union Jubo League Vice-president Shoaib, Dhulia ward Awami League General Secretary Shahidul Islam and AL activist Harun Hawlader cut down these trees from a strip of road stretching from Verantala Bazar to Chaumohani in the area. The trees are worth about Tk 10 lakh.

Different species of trees were planted by the LGED around 15-16 years ago on both sides of the road. The trees have grown and have helped beautify the road.

Denying the allegations, Shoaib said, “We do not know who cut the trees.”

The other accused, Shahidul and Harun, also denied the allegation.

Baufal Upazila LGED Engineer Sultan Ahmed said, “After receiving the complaint of the UP chairman, I have instructed the officer-in-charge of local police station to investigate the incident and asked him to submit a report.”

Action will be taken after receiving the report, he added.


Dhaka’s noise pollution three times more than tolerable level: Environment minister

Noise pollution in Dhaka city is currently three times more than tolerable level and as a result around half a crore people are at health risk, Environment, Forests and Climate Change Minister Mohammad Shahab Uddin said at a programme today.

He also said, necessary steps will be taken to enact new laws by amending the existing one in order to keep the “silent zones” declared in the nine city corporation areas free from noise pollution.

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The minister was speaking from his residence in the capital at a virtual workshop organised by the Department of Environment on the occasion of International Noise Awareness Day-2021.

He said “silent zones” were declared at all nine city corporations where hospitals, educational institutions and administrative areas are situated.

“Various agencies including Department of Environment, Police, City Corporation, BRTA will work together to ensure all silent zones are free from noise,” he added.

The minister said the Dhaka South City Corporation has been contacted to implement silent zone area around the secretariat. This project will be implemented after the Covid-19 pandemic comes under control or normalises.

The minister said according to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion people (aged 12-35) are at risk of hearing loss due to their involvement in excessively noisy recreational activities.

He called upon the people to be aware of the various harmful effects of noise pollution as well as to make others aware to lead a quality life.

Deputy Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Habibun Nahar, Secretary Ziaul Hasan, former vice chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Prof Pran Gopal Dutta, among others also spoke at the workshop chaired by Md Moniruzzaman, Director General of Department of Environment.


Elephant calf found dead in Rangunia tea garden

An elephant calf was found dead in a pit of mud in a tea garden in Rangunia upazila of Chattogram.

The male elephant aged only ten months died at Nor Hossener Ghona inside Kodala Tea Garden on Thursday but report of its death came to light on Friday.

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Masum Kabir, range officer of Rangunia Range office under Chattogram South Forest Division told The Daily Star the elephant seemed to have gotten bogged down in mud after slipping from a steep hill nearby on Wednesday night.

On information we went to the area on Thursday morning, tried to rescue it but failed due to other wild elephant guarding the calf nearby, he said.

“The spot where the calf fell from looked like quicksand. We assume it went deeper under the mud when the elephant herd tried to rescue it”, he added.


Authorities destroy 1500m fishing net, mechanised boat at Halda river

Photo: STAR

Local administration today destroyed at least 1500 meters of fishing net and a mechanised boat lifting sand from the riverbed at Halda river.

Ruhul Amin, upazila nirbahi officer of Hathazari upazila administration led the daylong drive.

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People laid the net in the river to trap brood fish ahead of spawning time, the UNO said.

We seized 1500 meter of net today from Peskar Hat and a mechanised boat from Sattar Ghat. Both were destroyed, he added.

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Zebra population increasing at Gazipur safari park

The zebra population has been increasing at Gazipur Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park.

If it continues, the safari park authorities may have to expand space for its African Safari, Acting Officer of the park and Assistant Forest Conservator Tobibur Rahman said.

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The park was closed for most of 2020 due to the restrictions imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

As there were no visitors for a long time and zebras enjoyed the natural environment inside the park, their breeding was enhanced, our Gazipur correspondent reports quoting the safari park official.

A total of 11 foals were born in the last two years, and more will join them in the next few months, he said, adding that a total of eight zebras are waiting to give birth.

The authorities are serving balanced food to the zebras, he said. 

There are a total of 25 zebras — 12 male and 13 female — at the park at present.


Another whale carcass at Himchhari beach

A day after a whale carcass washed ashore at Himchhari beach in Cox’s Bazar, another whale corpse was found at the beach today.

Commuters on Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive road noticed the whale carcass on the beach around 6:00am this morning, reports our Cox’s Bazar correspondent.

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The body of the marine mammal became more visible with the ebb.

The whale carcass that was found today is significantly larger than the one spotted yesterday. It has a length of around 43 feet and width of 14 feet, said Jahirul Islam, executive director of Marine Life Alliance, a non-government organisation.

Yesterday, a whale carcass, around 30 feet long and assumed to have weighed five tonnes, washed ashore at Himchhari beach.

“This species of whale usually swim in pods in the deep sea, especially along the Sundarbans, and may live for up to 90 years. The one that washed ashore today was approximately 50 years of age, and died at least 15 days before,” Jahirul Islam said.

“Samples from the carcass are being collected, from which its cause of death can be determined. The carcass is decomposed,” he added.

Police personnel went to the spot around 10:30am and kept the carcass within a roped area to keep curious people away from it.

Preparations are going on to bury the carcass to prevent pollution, said Mohammad Amin, additional deputy commissioner (revenue) of Cox’s Bazar.


TK Group fined Tk 3.2 lakh for razing hills in Ctg

Department of Environment (DoE), Chattogram (metro) fined TK Group Tk 3.2 lakh for razing hills at Soloshahar area of the port city.

The fine was imposed after a hearing at DoE Khulshi office today.

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Mohammad Nurullah Nuri, director of DoE Chattogram (metro) told The Daily Star that on a tip off, a team of DoE visited the spot at Summer Hill area of Soloshahar where they found a portion of hill was razed to construct building.

Aminul Haque, manager of TK Group admitted to cutting 6,400 square feet of hills which resulted in the fine, Nuri added.