Rangpur, Sept 11 (UNB) - Cultivation of transplanted Aman paddy cultivation is facing a setback because of a drought-like situation in Rangpur region.
The croplands have dried up and the seedling is turning yellowish due to absence of rainfall and scorching summer heat, farmers said.
Mohammad Ali, meteorologist of the Rangpur met office, said this year the rainfall is less than the last year. Only 170 millimeters of rainfall was recorded in August this year but it was 600 millimeters in the same period last year, he said.
Inadequate rainfall has led to a near-drought situation in Rangpur, Kurigram, Nilphamari, Gaibandha, Lalmonirhat, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon and Panchagarh districts.
Moniruzzaman, deputy director of Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Rangpur region, said to overcome the situation the farmers have been advised to continue supplementary irrigation by deep tube well or from surface water sources in the affected districts of the region.
The farmers of these areas have been trying to save the transplanted seedlings by irrigation from shallow and deep tube-wells, he added.
Asaduzzaman Afzal, farmer of Khashbag in the Rangpur city, said it cost Tk 1,950 for irrigation of his one and half acres of paddy field.
Another farmer Aminur Rahman of Sadar upazila, said he irrigated his two acres of land at a cost of Tk 2000.
Many farmers could not irrigate their lands properly due to the high cost of irrigation and now they are waiting eagerly for heavy rainfall, he added.
Now farmers are apprehending that the production cost would be up if the drought-like situation continues and they have to give irrigation from deep and shallow tube-wells for more days, sources said.
DAE sources said current season farmers cultivated Aman paddy on a total 10 lakh hectares of land in eight districts of the Rangpur division.
Naogaon, Sept 10 (UNB) – Farmers of the district are very happy this year due to the good price of jute after so many years.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), jute is now selling at Tk 1,800-2,000 per maund while its highest price was Tk 1,500 per maund last year.
However, the land brought under jute cultivation this year is lesser than that of the past year as many growers did not take interest in cultivating it due to its low prices in previous years.
DAE sources said farmers cultivated jute on 7,200 hectares of land this time which was 8,300 hectares in the previous year.
Some local farmers said they will cultivate jute on more lands next year as they are getting good prices this year.
Sekandar Ali, a farmer of Enayetpur village in Manda upazila, said he cultivated jute on 40 decimals of land and the total cost of the production was Tk 8,000. He got Tk 22,000 selling his jute.
Farmers of Shitli Hasna village in Mohadebpur upazila said the price of per maund jute was Tk 800-900 three years back which increased to Tk 1,400-1,500 last year, and it is now selling at Tk 1,800-2,000 per maund.
They are now making a profit of Tk 6,000-7,000 from per of bigha jute, said the farmers.
Some wholesale buyers of jute said they are buying jute from farmers at Tk 1,800-2,000 per maund and they will sell it to mills at Tk 2,100-2,300 per maund.
DAE deputy-director Monojit Kumar Mallik said many farmers could not plant seedlings for heavy rainfall at the beginning of the season, which is the main reason behind the fall in jute farming.
If the weather remains favourable, the production will get a boost next year, hoped the official.
Dhaka, Sept 10 (UNB) – National Board of Revenue (NBR) has put a strong vigilance mechanism in place to keep tax evasion in check.
Official sources confirmed the UNB that NBR took the move as it does not want to underachieve its set goal of collecting a hefty Tk 2,96,201 crore revenue in financial year 2018-19.
NBR has asked the Investigation and Intelligence Cell (IIC) formed in each of its tax zones to strengthen their vigilance aiming to contain the tax evasion.
“As part of the programme to catch the tax evaders the NBR has asked the IIC to take effective steps regarding the matter,” a senior official of the NBR told UNB.
The directive was given at a recent meeting with the field level officials of the revenue collecting authority at the conference room of the NBR.
The NBR has asked the officials to look into the large taxpayers’ files properly. “They will send report to the Board regularly on their activities,” the NBR senior official said.
There are 31 tax zones across the country and each tax zones have 22 circle offices. These offices collect taxes directly.
The IIC has been formed in each tax zones with the commissioners of the respective tax zones as the head of the IIC.
The NBR official said that the aim of the IIC is to identify the evaders – individual or organization.
“By ensuring this it would be possible to increase the tax collection and the people will be discouraged to evade tax,” he hoped.
He mentioned that the Cell will audit the big taxpayers and find out whether there is any incidence of income hiding, check previous income declaration and hold regular meetings with them.
Besides, the NBR has asked the field level offices to remain vigil regarding the evading of taxes by the individual taxpayers.
There will be a regular yearly Tax Fair in the next month and after that the field offices will further enhance their vigilance.
"Generally we wait for the last date of the income return submission date and after that we intensify our drive," a field level tax official told UNB.
There are over 35 lakh e-TIN holders in the country now, a number considered very low for a country of 17 crore population.
For fiscal year 2018-19, the government has set the total revenue target – tax and non-tax revenue - at Tk 3,39,280 crore. Of the total amount, the NBR has been tasked to source Tk 2,96,201 crore.
Moulvibazar, Sept 9 (UNB) – The wildlife of Lawachhara National Park, a major park in Kamalganj upazila, is declining fast due to acute food crisis and habitat problem.
The wild animals are coming out of the park and entering localities in search of food. Once out, they are either getting killed by local people or being crushed under the wheels of motorised vehicles in most cases as there are railways and roads inside the forest area.
When a big-size python entered a locality in the last week of August, local people attempted to kill it. However, ‘Wildlife Service Foundation (WSF), a private organisation which works on wildlife, rescued the snake.
Although the python was taken back unhurt, the wild animals, in most cases, lose their lives, causing fall in their populations.
The Lawachhara Park, covering approximately 1,250 hectares of land, was declared a national park by the government on July 7,1996 under the Wildlife Act, 1974. Its biodiversity consists of 460 species, of which 167 species are plants, four amphibian species, six reptile species, 246 bird species, 20 mammal species, and 17 insect species.
Sources at the Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Department of the Forest Department said around 50 wild animals were recovered from the forest and its adjoining areas in the last eight months. Among them, seven were found dead. In 2017, a total 16 wild animals were found dead among 187 recovered animals.
The highest number of animals -- 47 -- was killed in the forest in 2016 among 230 recovered ones.
However, WSF claimed that at least 20 wild animals were found dead in the last six months in the forest and its adjoining areas. Among them were barking deer, pythons, snakes and monkeys.
Besides, it rescued 40 injured wild animals from the locality. Among the rescued ones, some were released in the forest and 12 are still undergoing treatment.
Wildlife researcher Tania Khan said deforestation is the main reason behind the food and habitat crises of the wild animals. People are destroying forests for making their own houses and cutting down trees for firewood for which wild animals are losing their abode.
Awareness needs to be created among people with a message that they should save the wildlife for their own survival. “People kill the animals for lack of awareness,” she said.
After announcing it a reserve forest in 1996, around 30 percent of trees were chopped down. Besides, huge trees were uprooted during storms. The number of trees is declining for lack of effective steps to stop smuggling and lack of initiative for necessary afforestation, said officials at different NGOs working on Lawachhara.
Admitting the problems, Sylhet divisional forest officer Abu Musa Samsul Muhit Chowdhury said wild animals are being killed when they enter the locality in search of food.
To solve the crisis, he said, big trees will be conserved along with planting fruit-bearing trees.
Musa said a rescue centre for wild animals was established in the park which was later shut for manpower crisis. “It’ll be reopened soon.”
For the safety of the animals, it is necessary to think about alternative to rail tracks and roads that passed through forest.
Joly Paul, convener of Lawchara Forest and Wildlife Life Protection Movement, said the rail tracks and roads through the forest are nothing but ‘death traps’ for the wild animals.
“We’ve long been demanding to relocate the train lines and roads. Without their relocation, it’s not possible to save the animals,” she said adding that if the rescue centre could be reopened, the number of deaths of wild animals will come down.
Dhaka, Sept 9 (UNB) – Most hills across the country are facing serious destruction due to human interventions like random earth cutting, tree chopping and unplanned construction of structures and for lack of an effective plan to protect those, expert said.
Talking to UNB noted environment expert and executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Advance Studies Dr Atiq Rahman, Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) Chairman Abu Naser Khan and Prof M Shahidul Islam of Dhaka University’s Geography and Environment department said massive afforestation with indigenous plants, strong monitoring on hill resources and formation of a comprehensive hill management policy and proper action plan are urgently needed to protect the hills.
They also warned that the hills may face serious consequences in the future if 'effective steps’ are not taken to check their ruination and ensure proper use of their lands and resources.
Contacted, Environment and Forest Minister Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud said it is essential to strengthen the monitoring system to stop hill cutting and tree felling. “We can’t do it properly for lack of manpower. There’s been no recruitment over the last six years to increase manpower and ensure strong monitoring in hills.”
He, however, said the government is going to take steps for increasing manpower to look after the hills and their resources.
Dr Atiq Rahman said the stability of the country’s hills is very poor as most of them are created with soil, not with rock. “The hills are getting destroyed due to mindless deforestation and earth cutting for lack of monitoring and effective action plan to protect those.”
The environment expert said massive afforestation is necessary to stabilize hill slopes and thus prevent possible landslides in the hilly region. “An innovative project should be taken to construct roads and establishments on the hills in a planned way, and protect the eco-system and biodiversity of the hills.”
He also warned that if the government does not come up with proper plans and action programmes to protect the hills, the nation will have to pay a heavy price in the near future.
Abu Naser Khan said most of the country’s hills are in very bad condition due to rampant hill cutting, tree chopping, unplanned use of hill and its resources and lack of channels for rainwater to drain out.
He said the government needs to make a national hill management policy to protect the hills and check landslides, “It’ll have to ensure that natural forests on hills are not destroyed in any way.”
The Poba chairman voiced deep concern as huge forestlands are getting destroyed in Cox’s Bazar due to cut down trees by Rohingyas for using firewood to cook.
Khan said the government should take immediate steps to give the Rohingyas alternative sources of fuel for cooking to save the hill forest and ecology.
Prof Shahidul Islam said long-term action programmes should be taken with a strong political commitment by identifying risky hills to address the manmade causes for hill ruination and landslides. “It’s very crucial to set up a ‘Hill Management’ body to protect the hills from devastation.”
The DU professor also suggested formation of a comprehensive hill land use policy to avert unplanned infrastructure and development works in the hilly districts.
Talking to UNB, Director General of Department of Environment (DoE) Dr Sultan Ahmed said they have formulated 13 recommendations to protect the hills and prevent landsides. “We’ve sent those recommendations to all the divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners concerned to take necessary steps for implementation.”
The recommendations include strictly enforcing the Bangladesh Environment Protection Act to protect and preserve the hills, taking afforestation drive in hills, introducing sustainable agriculture system there and, taking steps for preserving water, formulating a long-term action plan for the use of hill areas and implementing it properly, working out a sustainable hill management system through conducting research, taking effective steps for stopping indiscriminate tree felling and creating suitable hill forest.
They also recommended constructing roads in the hills in a planned way, stopping burning of shrubs and bushes on the forest floors, setting up cement blocks on hill slopes or planting grass, stop construction of risky houses on the slopes leveling top of and cutting hills, ensuring proper drainage system of existing roads and establishments on the hills and stopping the supply of utility services to discourage setting up of houses on the hill slopes.