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Assam Government Relaxes Restrictions on Cultivation of Scented Agar Tree

This will promote cultivation of Agar and Chandan in the state

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In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approved growing and cutting of Agar and Chandan trees on non-forest lands. Pixabay

In a welcome move, the Assam government has relaxed the restrictions on cultivation of the scented Agar tree.

“In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approved growing and cutting of Agar and Chandan trees on non-forest lands. This will promote cultivation of Agar and Chandan in the state. The Cabinet also approved setting up of an International Trade Centre for Agar in Golaghat,” said Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a tweet.

‘Aquilaria malaccensis’, which is locally known as Xasi or Agar, is used in world class perfumeries as a fixative and is highly prized by European perfumers for mixing their best grade scents. It acts as a stimulant, cardio tonic and carminative, aphrodisiac, alternative anodyne, anti-diarrheal, anti-asthmatic and astringent.

“The Assam cabinet has kind of liberalized the Agar plantation and its felling. Now there is no need for registration for Agar cultivation up to 35 bighas of land. This is going to boost the state’s economy to a great extent,” said a senior industry department officer in Assam.

Assam, Government, Agar Tree
In a welcome move, the Assam government has relaxed the restrictions on cultivation of the scented Agar tree. Flickr

The plantation of Agar tree is seen in Assam’s Sibsagar, Sadiya, Nagaon, Darrang, Goalpara and Cachar districts of Assam. Apart from Assam, the tree is also grown in Khasi Hills and Garo Hills districts of Meghalaya and also found in the forests of Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.

The All Assam Agar Traders and Agar Oil Manufacturers’ Association has been demanding the state government to exempt agar wood from the purview of Assam Wood Based Industries (Establishment and Regulation) Rules 2000 and bringing them under the Secondary Wood Based Industries.

“As Agar wood was classified under the wood based industries, cutting of Agar tree was not allowed and there was requirement of registration for sending the same outside,” said the senior official adding that the move would also help stop the illegal Agar trade, which is estimated to be of Rs 10,000 Crore.

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At present the Hojai district in Assam is the hub of distilling the agar oil. More than two lakh people are directly dependent on this Agar cultivation and illegal Agar trade in Assam. In Hojai alone, there are over 2,000 distillation units of Agar. (IANS)

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Spying Charges On 2 Ex-Twitter Employees for Saudi Arabia

2 former twitter employees were charged with spying for Saudi Arabia

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Spying for Saudi Arabia
Two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabia government. Pixabay

Raising concerns that American technology firms might be exposed to foreign governments, two former Twitter employees have been charged with spying for the Saudi Arabia government and the Kingdom’s royal family, according to the US Justice Department.

The two former Twitter staffers, Ali Alzabarah, a Saudi national and Ahmad Abouammo, a US citizen, used their access at the micro-blogging giant to gather sensitive and non-public information on dissidents of the Saudi regime, the Justice Department said in a criminal complaint.

The case, unsealed in San Francisco federal court, underscores allegations the Saudi government tries to control anti-regime voices abroad. It also recalls a move reportedly directed by the country’s controversial leader to weaponise online platforms against critics, CNN Business reported on Thursday.

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A US citizen, used their access at the micro-blogging giant to gather sensitive and non-public information on dissidents of the Saudi regime. Pixabay

One of the two people is reportedly an associate of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — who the CIA has concluded likely ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last year.

“The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter’s internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users,” US Attorney David Anderson said in a statement.

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Another man, named Ahmed Almutairi, who is also from Saudi Arabia, allegedly acted as a go-between to the two Twitter staffers and the Saudi government, which according to the complaint rewarded the men with hundreds of thousands of dollars and, for one man, a luxury Hublot watch, the report added. (IANS)