Tuesday January 22, 2019
Home Uncategorized Big cat count...

Big cat count in Odisha, Maoist causing inconvenience

0
//

New Delhi: With the beginning of February, the Odisha government is all set to began its ‘big cat count’ while the authorities plan to skip the Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary that has lately turned into a hot-bed for the Maoist.

The tiger censusin the sanctuary, in Nuapada district, has not been conducted since 2004 after it became a part of the Red Corridor. The sanctuary, accorded in-principle status as tiger reserve by the centre in 2014, is spread over 600 sq km but has still failed to attract wildlife enthusiasts and tourists due to the fear of ultras, who have killed several people, including forest guards and police officers in and around the reserve.

With the presence of central security forces, the government is, however, hopeful this time to conduct a census and combat the Maoist menace.

“We are hopeful of conducting the tiger census this time. There is the presence of central forces besides police forces. If any untoward incidents occur, we may skip the counting. But as of now, we are certain to go for the counting,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) S S Srivastav.

Sunabeda was home to 32 tigers and 36 leopards, according to the 2004 tiger census. The current number is unknown since there was no count in 2010. Same was the situation in 2014 and no census was conducted even though the Wildlife Institute of India had done so in the Similipal and Salkosia tiger reserves.

Sunabeda, 1983 declared sanctuary, not only the home of tigers also provides shelter to hyenas, baring deer, chital, gaur, sambar, sloth bear, hill myna, pea fowl, partridge and a number of reptilian species.

Officials accept, the funds allotted for the preservation of the big cats is not being utilized properly due to the fear of the ultras.

Forest department sources said the presence of Maoists in the sanctuary first came to light in 2008 when the rebels started holding motivational meetings in villages of the region. In subsequent years, they started targeting local leaders, wildlife and forest officials.

The guerrillas have also destroyed government infrastructure. Sources revealed that the first major violence by the guerrillas was reported in May 2012 when they ambushed a police party and killed nine policemen, including an additional superintendent of police, inside the sanctuary.

At present, the CRPF troopers and Cobra (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action) personnel have been deployed at Barkot, Jamgaon, Sunabeda and Soseng villages in the region.

Sources in the forest department also said there has been a constant fall in the number of visitors owing to the Maoist menace. The department recorded 22,000 footfalls between 2001 and 2005. The figure dipped to 2009 between 2006 and 2009. In 2010 and 2011, only 815 tourists visited the place. No tourist has visited the area since 2012.

Only 28 tigers have been reported in the state according to The All India Tiger Estimation Report-2014, which the Odisha forest department refused to buy and decided to conduct its own counting, hoping to find 60 animals in the state.

“We do not accept the report which put the number of tigers at 28. The report was only based on the data from the Similipal National Park. It did not take into account the tigers in other forests like Atgarh and Kuldhia. The number of big cats in the state would be around 60,” said Srivastava.(IANS)

Next Story

U.S. Court Blocks Question On Citizenship For U.S. Census

The Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

0
USA, Census
An envelope contains a 2018 census test letter mailed to a resident in Providence, R.I., March 23, 2018. VOA

A federal judge has blocked the Commerce Department from including a question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census.

To plaintiffs in the case — a sizable coalition of states, cities and advocates — the question seemed aimed at turning the official population survey into a tool to advance Trump administration policies by discouraging immigrants from participating.

In Tuesday’s ruling, which came after a two-week trial in New York, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that the decision to add the citizenship question was made before data was collected to show that a change in policy was necessary.

In his 277-page ruling, Furman wrote that the decision was “pretextual” and thus violated a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

USA, democrats
Migrants traveling with children walk up a hill to a waiting U.S. Border Patrol agent just inside San Ysidro, Calif., after climbing over the border wall from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 3, 2018. VOA

Furman said the APA requires federal agencies to study an issue before changing policies, and the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, “violated the public trust.”

Documented noncitizens

About 11 million people who live in the U.S. are undocumented, but there are also about 13 million documented noncitizens who might fear responding to the census questionnaire if citizenship is included.

“Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included,” Furman said.

The U.S. census is taken every 10 years and is next scheduled for 2020. It plays a critical role in U.S. politics since the apportionment of House of Representative seats is based on population figures derived from the census and also disbursement of millions in federal funds. In addition, decisions from the location of businesses to the makeup of state and local districts are based on the census.

Plaintiffs argued that noncitizens tend to live in places that disproportionately vote Democratic, so an undercount would likely shift political power and federal spending to Republican areas.

USA, immigrants
Immigrants participate in a naturalization ceremony to become U.S. citizens in Los Angeles, Dec. 19, 2018. VOA

Furman’s ruling is only the opening salvo on the citizenship question. The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear an aspect of the case in February, hoping to rule before the Census Bureau has to print its questionnaire. In addition, the government is expected to quickly appeal Furman’s ruling.

Reasoned explanation

The U.S. government fought hard to keep the citizenship question out of court. When that failed, government lawyers argued that how Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross reached his decision on the citizenship question was “immaterial.”

“All the secretary is required to do is to provide a reasoned explanation,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett A. Shumate told the court. “He doesn’t have to choose the best option.”

Ross has said that he decided to add citizenship to the census in response to a request from the Justice Department, which said that census data on citizenship would help it better enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

USA, shutdown
Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Citizenship was on the questionnaire in censuses before 1960 and is still part of the American Community Survey, which samples about 2.6 percent of the population each year, in order to help local officials and businesses understand what is going on in their communities.

‘Forceful rebuke’

But last January, the Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

Also Read: International Immigrants May be Healthier Than Native: Study

“This victory in our case is a forceful rebuke of the administration’s attempts to weaponize the census to attack immigrants and communities of color,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement about the case.

Along with the ACLU, plaintiffs included 18 states, the District of Columbia, several cities and some immigrant rights groups. (VOA)