Month: September 2019

Poisonous Frogs

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The scientists are in serious stress to tackle the nuisance of small poisonous frogs in Australian native. A group of scientists of Charles Darwin University in United Kingdom in their research said the small poisonous frogs are killing snakes and crocodiles, raising concern for bio-diversity.

When the snakes swallow them to meet their hunger, the small frogs spread poison inside the snake’s body and eventually the snake dies, said the report. The scientists said that they were concerned when they worked with the crocodiles of Victoria River and Bulow River in Northern territory. The number of crocodiles, small in size (male 1.7 meter while female crocodile only 0.7 meter) known as Pigmy, a rare species was 28 in 2007 but the number came down to 18 after one year.

The scientists could not specify the actual reasons behind such reduction of the crocodiles but after the presence of such frogs in the rivers, the number of crocodiles is coming down. Incidentally, Due to shortage of Food, the crocodiles eat up the frogs and they die, said the scientists. The frogs are advancing towards East-South Australia with a speed of 50 kilometers per year, the scientists informed.

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Monpura

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Monpura, A best and attractive island is located at Bhola district in Bangladesh. Its have a historical background. Portuguese pirates used to take shelter in the Monpura Island before 600 years ago. People from Bhola, Laxmipur and Noakhali started living the island after Portuguese’s left.

Bhola is one the largest island in Bangladesh which is situated the most south parts in country. The 20 charlands in the 350-square kilometer island on the Meghna which Bay of Bengal are very closed and now green sector enclosed by sea. It’s presenting an extraordinary beauty which might not be seen in any other southern part of the Bangladesh.  The main land of Monpura is Bhola which was created by poli of the Meghna River. The interesting thing is a journey in the Island; Varieties of wild life with green forests are an enchanting scene never to be forgotten.

Deer, Monkey, python, dolphin & lots of various types of Birds are the major attraction of the island. Department of Forest have been made this spot as green by planting trees about a decade ago so that cyclone and natural disaster cannot hamper the southern part of the country. And the department was tried to make this place as a tourist spot.

It is important that, a lot migratory birds came here on the winter season. The exclusive feature of island is that a person can see both sunrise and sunset from few points in this island.

How to Go: A person can go this amazing place very easily. Tipu 5 and Panama ship (locally called lonch) starts its journey from Sadarghat, Dhaka to Monpura everyday 5 pm and reached at Monpura next day 7 am. Rent for deck is 800 BDT and for cabin are 800 to 1500 BDT. Contact number of Tipu and Panama is +88-01740951720.

Another route to go Monpura Island is by starts journey with ship Tipu 4 or, farhan which departure from Sadarghat at 6:30 pm and arrive at Tomijuddin Ghat of Charfashion area of Bhola district at 4 am. After that tourist can arrive at Monpura by another ship or, engine boat. This route will give a tourist extra benefit which is visiting Tomijuddin area which is also attractive place.

How to Visit: The best solution for site visit is rent a motorcycle with its driver. He will also help you as professional guide. The motorcycle driver will charge 1000 to 1500 BDT for a day with refreshments and lunch.

Where will stay: Tourist can stay by setting up camp. Don’t worry, there’s no robber, thief and such kind of problems. On the other hand, there are some hotels but quality is very low.

How can back: Every morning at 10 am, ships are departure from Monpura.

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Finalization of National Tobacco Control Policy under Threat: PROGGA

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The cigarette manufacturers’ organization Bangladesh Cigarette Manufacturers Association (BCMA) has already started a strong lobbying campaign in the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to hinder the finalization process of National Tobacco Control Policy (NTCP) 2019. On 15 September 2019, the organization sent a letter to the Finance Minister, with copies sent to Finance Secretary, Health Services Secretary and Chairman of National Revenue Board (NBR). In the letter, the association presented a series of unsubstantiated and fictitious explanations and ‘reasoning’ against the proven and highly effective tobacco control measures that the draft NTCP contains including the abolishment of government partnership in tobacco companies, the banning of foreign direct investment in tobacco sector, banning of emerging tobacco products, increasing the size of Graphic Health Warning (GHW) on tobacco packaging, the introduction of plain packaging, increasing tobacco taxes and prices as well as introducing specific excise taxes.

The sole purpose of BCMA’s strategy here is to bring forth the issue of tobacco revenue in order to intimidate and manipulate the MoF and eventually impair the finalization of NTCP. Previously, the tobacco companies launched a concerted media campaign to disrupt the inter-ministerial meeting on NTCP.

BCMA in its letter mentioned Bangladesh as one of the countries with high tobacco taxes. The reality is quite the contrary as the price of cigarettes in Bangladesh is one of the cheapest in the world. Average price of cheapest cigarettes is more than twice in India than it is in Bangladesh. According to a 2016 World Health Organization (WHO) study, with the exception of Myanmar, Nepal and Indonesia, Bangladesh has the cheapest cigarette prices in the South and South-East Asian region.

As a result, it is evident that there is no alternative to increasing this ‘cheapest’ price by introducing specific taxes on tobacco products. In the letter, BCMA could not but mention its favourite fear-mongering story that if, by sheer chance, the authority manages to increase the tobacco taxes substantially, it would result in widespread tax evasion and huge influx of illicit cigarettes, eventually causing the govt a massive revenue loss. The fact, as always, contradicts with BCMA’s claim.

The report ‘A Global review of Country Experiences’, published in February 2019 by the World Bank, has found out that the increase in tobacco taxes has barely any relation with illicit trade of cigarettes and the percentage of illicit trade of tobacco in Bangladesh stands at merely 1.8 percent, the lowest in 27 countries. BCMA also claimed that the plain packaging strategy of tobacco control is ineffective in curbing the use of tobacco products. But in reality, till today, more than 16 countries in the world, including Australia, Canada, Belgium, Hungary, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Singapore, have introduced plain packaging in their tobacco control mechanism after realizing its impact.

Even our neighboring countries, Srilanka and Nepal are also working on implementing plain packaging soon. In Plain Packaging, tobacco companies cannot attach any promotional messages in the packets of tobacco products. It also boosts the effectiveness of GHW on tobacco packs. Currently, GHW messages covers the lower 50 percent of all tobacco packs in Bangladesh whereas it is 90 percent in Nepal, 85 percent in India and Thailand, 80 percent in Sri Lanka. BCMA also emphasized on retaining the govt. shares on tobacco companies, claiming that it is important for revenue earning and minimizing public health risk. Again the reality is that the govt.’s shares in multinational tobacco companies and the presence of govt.

Officials in the Directors’ Board give the companies an unprecedented opportunity to infiltrate the policymaking process and interfere in tobacco control strategies. BCMA also stood against the proposed policy of banning foreign direct investment in the tobacco industry claiming that such investment creates employment opportunities which is undoubtedly ridiculous laughable. The truth is that Bangladesh, a country where 49 percent of its population is youth, appears as a tantalizing market for expanding tobacco business. The country is currently going through ‘Demographic Dividend’ stage as the working age population is larger than its dependent population.

However, the high prevalence of tobacco use can lead this generation to premature death and loss of productivity and vitality. BCMA’s letter also presented electronic cigarettes, vaping, heated (IQOS) tobacco products as ‘safe alternatives’ to traditional cigarettes and advised against banning these products. Tobacco companies produce and market these products targeting the youth and children.

Due to innovative marketing and attractive designing of these products, it has already gained much popularity among school-going children and adolescents. The widespread prevalence of emerging tobacco products has already taken a deadly turn in Europe and the U.S. Bangladesh is yet to experience such widespread use of these items though the numbers are rising up. Thailand, Singapore and some 40 countries have already banned e-cig and vaping products. 

It should be mentioned that tobacco claims more than 126,000 lives each year in Bangladesh and incurs a financial loss of more than Taka 30,560 cr. due to the illness and deaths, it causes. Realizing the extent of loss caused by tobacco use, the Hon.

Prime Minister declared her vision of transforming Bangladesh into a tobacco-free country by 2040 and in 2016, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) started formulating National Tobacco Control Policy to reach the goal. As a party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of WHO, Bangladesh is officially committed to safeguarding its tobacco control policies and measures from the vested interests of the tobacco industry.

So the govt must stay clear of the influence and interference of tobacco companies and finalize and implement the National Tobacco Control Policy as soon as possible.

Source: Press release from PROGGA

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Gulshan Lake not in Government Spotlight

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There has not been sewage and household dissipates did not stream into the Gulshan lake in a single day. Gulshan Lake, located Gulshan-Baridhara area was officially marked an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) to save the water body from becoming pollution. And also to protect it from infringement which was declared before 12 years.

According to the grapevine trying to convince people that it was central to safeguard it for the ecology of Dhaka city, two giant signboards of the Department of Environment (DoE) of the government have been posted on either end of the lake since November 26, 2001.

Although there have been a lot of environmental law and organization but the Gulshan-Baridhara Lake continues to get more polluted day by day for not taking any steps from law implement departments, claimed environmental lawyer Rizwana Hasan.

Whatever, officials of DoE claimed that Dhaka Wasa and Dhaka City Corporation are trying to stop pollution in the Lake.

It’s important that Rajdhani Unnyan Kartripakhha (RAJUK) undertook a plan to build a 40 feet road along the eastern shoreline of the lake.

Incidentally, to survive any kind of life in a water body, the minimum standard required level of break up oxygen is six milligrams per liter. The ECA rule was established in the year 1999 under the Bangladesh Environment Protection Act, 1995.

There are total of 12 ECAs have been identified in the Bangladesh. These areas are Tanguar Haor, Hakaluki Haor and Marjat Baor is also need to be protected. Shores of the lake are used as dumping ground for city waste