Gopalganj, Sept 24 (UNB) – Some influential quarters are cutting down roadside trees in Kashiani upazila without taking any permission from the local administration, putting the environment of the upazila in jeopardy.
Many valuable big-size trees along both sides of several roads like Narai-Rukra, Sitarumpur-Poshiur, Shilta-Rajpat, Taltola-Rmadia and some other local roads are being cut down as the local administration is sleeping at the wheel, locals alleged.
Local environmental specialists and activists have expressed concern at the widespread destruction of trees on government lands alongside roads.
On September 12, two influential men cut down three rain trees worth around Tk 60,000 from beside Ramdia-Orakandi LGED road at Ghritokandi village in Kashiani upazila, they said.
But, the villagers alleged, the local authorities did not pay heed to it despite informing them several times.
Anisur Rahman, Abdur Rahman and Saidur Rahman of Bhulbaria village said some 20 large trees were cut down from beside the Ramdia-Bhulbaria road over the last two years.
They said the influential quarter has become so desperate that they hardly hesitate to cut down trees in even broad daylight.
Bidhan Chandra Tikadar, a researcher of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, said the environment here is in danger following the destruction of the roadside trees. “The local administration should take immediate steps to protect the trees and thus the environment,” he added.
Asked about it, Md Habibur Rahman, an engineer at the Local Government Engineering Department of the upazila, said, “It’s the duty of the Upazila Nirbahi Officer to take action against the destruction of trees.”
He, however, said, there is a resolution of the Upazila Parishad that if anyone plants trees alongside any road, he or she has the right to cut down those.
Contacted, UNO ASM Moin Uddin said he had no information about any tree felling. “Necessary actions will be taken if we get any such complaint.”
Dhaka, Sept 24 (UNN) - The seizure of several consignments of a new drug ‘Khat’ at the country’s main airport has raised fears of a fresh drug epidemic sweeping the country after phensedyl and yaba.
Law enforcement agencies have seized several consignments, including two large shipments of New Psychotropic Substance (NPS), locally known as ‘Khat’, or ‘miraa’ or - more mystically – ‘Tea of the Arabs’, recently from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and General Post Office (GPO) in the city.
They said some unscrupulous people have been importing ‘khat’ showing the substance as ‘green tea’.
Khat, grown in parts of Africa, has been chewed for centuries in the Horn of Africa and Arabian Peninsula. It was supposed to make them more alert and raise energy levels, which is why consumers of Khat claim it is as harmless as coffee or tea.
However, Khat is internationally labeled as ‘C’ category drug.
A senior officer of a security agency requesting anonymity told UNB that as there is no remarkable number of consumers of the new drug Khat here, Bangladesh is being used as a transit for strategically reason for last several months.
On August 31, the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) and Dhaka Customs confiscated 468 kilograms of Khat, estimated to be worth around Tk 70 lakh from the foreign parcel unit of cargo village at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Later on September 9, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) seized even bigger consignment of 1,600 kilograms of the so-called ‘legal high’, worth Tk 2.38 crore from the foreign parcel unit of the General Post Office (GPO).
Both shipments arrived here from Ethiopia.
DNC Additional Director (Intelligence) Najrul Islam Sikder said the DNC’s intelligence wing first received an information from the international intelligence agency, which has been dealing with drug abuse, on the last Eid-ul-Azha day that a consignment of 23 cartoons Khat was scheduled to reach at the foreign parcel unit of the cargo village at Dhaka airport on August 27.
Based on the information, the DNC officials started searching for the suspected cartons at the foreign parcel unit from the morning till 11:00 pm but in vein, he said.
By this time other intelligence agencies were alerted and the customs officials finally became able to detect the suspected cartons, carrying Khat on August 31 at the cargo village of the airport, he added.
The DNC arrested one Nazim, 47, from his Baily Road residence in connection with the recovery of the new drug’s consignment.
Usually the drug consignments were being brought to Dhaka via Dubai from Ethiopia through air and then the Khat are packed as ‘green tea’ and then exported to UK, USA and Australia and several other countries, said the intelligence official.
Replying to a query, the DNC’s additional director said the number of Khat consumers in Bangladesh is relatively very low as many of the drug users are yet to get exposed to the new substance which costs Tk 6,000 to Tk 15,000 a kilogram.
“As we have already alerted all the air and land ports in the country, whenever such type of consignments reach here, law enforcement agencies must seized those contraband items,” he said. He asserted that from now on it will be very difficult for the drug traders to use the country as a transit point.
Nazrul Islam Sikder said most of the consignments were sent from Ethiopia to fake addresses. “We have identified more than 20 fake addresses,” he said.
Khat: How dangerous for human health
The United Nation office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) defines NPS as “substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat”.
UNODC says the new psychoactive substances have been known in the market by terms such as ‘designer drugs’, ‘legal highs’, ‘herbal highs’, ‘bath salts’, ‘research chemicals’ and ‘laboratory reagents’.
The herbal plant is very dangerous like other lethal drugs, experts say.
The two main stimulants in Khat speed up the user's mind and body, like a less powerful amphetamine.
According to the experts, Khat has several impacts on the human body if used for long.
Dhaka, Sept 23 (UNB) – The government wants to continue its efforts with other stakeholders to keep the movement of animals, especially elephants, undisturbed following the significant impacts on wildlife and subsequent human-elephant conflict due to installation of makeshift camps for Rohingyas, officials said.
The makeshift camps have a significant impact on wildlife and food shortages, shrinking habitats and disruptions in breeding grounds are affecting nocturnal, metaturnal and crepuscular and diurnal wildlife.
“This is a special problem. We’re looking into it to make some arrangement so that their (animals, especially elephants) path is not disturbed,” said Environment and Forests Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud.
Rohingya communities are encroaching on elephant’s habitat in the Cox’s Bazar Forest Division and both resident and migratory elephants are facing a continuous shrinkage of their habitat and food supply, according to a status of Asian Elephants in Bangladesh.
To date, 268 resident wild elephants, 93 migratory elephants and 96 captive elephants have been recorded in Bangladesh, the IUCN data shows.
Since the influx in August 2017, coupled with the host community and Rohingyas from past influxes, the crisis-hit population is now almost 1.5 million in Cox’s Bazar, creating a massive pressure on the already dilapidated environment there which still remains significantly underfunded, a recent UN report observed.
With this amount of people, Minister Anisul said, the eco-system is being destroyed following deforestation. “Once you deforest the area, you’re going to have consequential changes in eco system.”
Since the Rohingya refugee influx into Bangladesh last August, there have been at least 13 deaths resulting in from human-elephant incidents in the main Kutupalong-Balukhali refugee settlement, according to UNHCR.
Talking to UNB, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam said there has been no such incident in recent months giving credit to joint efforts.
He said a programme is going on with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UN refugee agency - UNHCR - to reduce incidents involving elephants coming into conflict with Rohingyas living in camps. “We’re working together – IUCN, UNHCR and the Ministry.”
“To protect us, to survive…we need forests, we need animals. We must understand how important this biodiversity is. Elephants are also part of this biodiverse ecosystem and should be respected,” he added.
Minister Anisul at a recent programme in the city said the Rohingya problem is not going to be over in the next few years and expressed worried whether donors will continue supporting Bangladesh for the restoration of environmental balance in the coming days if Rohingyas leave for their homes.
He explained saying there are so many issues around the world and there are so much of demands for support to address those global issues.
Some 4,300 acres of hills and forests were cut down to make temporary shelters for Rohingyas and ensure facilities and cooking fuel for them in Ukhia and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar threatening the biodiversity of the ecologically critical areas of the country, says a new report of the United Nations.
Some of the key impacts are likely to become irreversible if measures are not taken immediately, the report said.
Dhaka, Sept 23 (UNB) – The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to send letters to value added tax (VAT) dodgers to realise a huge unpaid VAT of Tk. 15,000 crore.
Sources at the Large Taxpayers Unit (LTU) of the VAT wing of NBR told UNB that the NBR will soon start sending letters to the business entities requesting them to pay their due VAT.
"If this does not bring positive result then we will go for the law suit as per the law," said an official speaking on condition of anonymity.
He said there is Tk 15,000 crore of VAT remain unpaid by gas companies, private mobile operators, banks and other entities.
There is allegation that some entities are realising the VAT from the customers but not depositing the tax to the national exchequer, said NBR sources.
NBR has taken an initiative to dispose long pending cases related to VAT aiming at expediting the collection of the revenue in the national exchequer.
"We will strengthen our law suit for quick disposal of the VAT related cases that have been pending in the courts," said a senior official working in the LTU.
"The NBR has given directives to strengthen their field level monitoring for this purpose," said an NBR official.
The LTU officials will scrutiny and examine the prices announced by the big business houses for their products and services.
So far, the VAT officials have accepted the prices of the products and services declared by the giant business houses.
"But the LTU officials while doing their scrutiny in the public and private entities' for the prices of the products and services, will also check annual report and other documents. There will be no breach of law in this process," said the official.
For fiscal year 2018-19, the government has set a total revenue target – tax and non-tax revenue - at Tk3, 39, 280 crore. Of this amount, the NBR has been tasked to source Tk 2, 96, 201 crore.
Income tax and other direct taxes will contribute Tk 102,201 crore, import and export tax will contribute Tk 32,589 crore, VAT Tk 110,543 crore, supplementary duty Tk 48,766, excise duty Tk 2091 and turnover tax Tk 11 crore.
Of the Tk 110,543 crore VAT target, the share for the LTU is Tk 60,617 crore.
Dhaka, Sept 22 (UNB) – If one feels the urge to discover the history of currencies and explore the various aspects of evolution of human civilization, especially that of the Bangalees through coins and currencies of different eras, the Taka Museum (Currency Museum) at Mirpur in the city is the right place to do so.
Bangladesh Bank established the museum, the first of its kind in the country, beside Bangladesh Bank Training Academy with a collection of over three thousand coins and paper notes.
While talking to UNB, Dr Achia Khanom Likhon, the Keeper of the Taka Museum, said former Bangladesh Bank Governor Dr Atiur Rahman took the initiative in 2012 to establish the museum equipped with modern technology and facilities to preserve and exhibit the history and tradition of currency.
In 2009, the museum was established on the third floor of the main building of the central bank at Motijheel, but that was not open to all. Now, visitors can visit the Taka Museum free of cost, said Achia Khanom.
Photo: Wahida Zaman Shithi/UNB
At the museum, the coins and currencies are currently being exhibited at two galleries. The first gallery with 43 showcases contains near about 1100 objects, and the story of evolution of coins and currencies starts right from here.
This gallery shows its visitors how people used to trade things much before the tradition of coins and bank notes started.
The ancient silver punch marked coins of fourth to second century BC tell the earliest history of coins in Indian subcontinent to the visitors. The collection also includes Kushan coins from 30 to 375 AD, Indo Greek Silver coins from 2nd to 1st century AD, Cowry shells, Harikel Coin from 7th to 9th century AD.
Next to the huge collection of Harikel coins brought from the ancient archaeological site, Mainamati, coins from the time of Delhi Sultans, Bengal Sultans and Mughal Emperors are showcased in different sections with details.
Gold coins of Chandragupta are also one of the main attractions of the gallery, while another main attraction is the collection of rare bank notes of China, Russia and Germany, Achia Khanom, the keeper of the museum, told UNB.
From the symbols of the British India from 1947 to the Pakistani coins and bank notes till 1971 are also showcased at the gallery.
Coins, bank notes and commemorative notes of all values and designs are showcased there along with some details.
Besides different currencies, the gallery also exhibits different pouches and pots which used to be used to preserve coins in ancient times as well as different dices which were used to make coins.
The second gallery showcases coins and currencies of about 120 countries including India, China, Cambodia, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Syria, Bahrain, Oman, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Australia and many other countries.
Digital technologies, including 3D television and LCD display, are there at the museum while visitors can print souvenir note having their faces on observe using the digital kiosk photo booth by spending Tk 50.
With the growing interest among the visitors, the second floor of Bangladesh Bank Training Academy has been allocated for the extension works of the Taka Museum, said Achia Khanom adding that two more galleries, a library, laboratory, multipurpose Cineplex, children corner are under construction as part of it.
The visiting hour of the museum is from 11am to 5pm from Saturday to Wednesday. The museum remains closed on Thursday except National holidays.