Friday February 22, 2019

Jumbo gesture: This small town in Odisha is building ponds for elephants for the summer

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By Prateek Kumar

At a time when elephants are killed for their tusks across the world, a small town of Odisha in India is making an effort to help the jumbos survive the onslaught of extreme summers.

The forest officials of the rural town of Dhenkanal in Odisha have come up with a plan to build small water ponds for the elephants in the nearby forests. “About 22 big and 14 small ponds at the cost of Rs 90 lakhs, will be constructed by the government to provide proper water facilities for elephants in nearby forest regions,” officials said.

The money to be spent on digging ponds will be made available by the state wildlife authority from the funds of Compensatory Afforestation Management Programme Authority (CAMPA). Allotted cost for the construction of each pond is presumed to be between Rs 2 – 2.5 lakh.

Considering the temperature in the eastern part of the country shoots over 40 degrees Celsius, it is a great step towards taking care of the wild. It also helps in avoiding the man-animal conflict that results in the death of many elephants and humans.

Animals will reach out to the residential complexes for refuge, if proper measures for their conservation are missing from the spectrum of the officials. Therefore, to overcome these fatal scenarios, the government has decided to make water storage reservoirs in the form of ponds for drinking water, ” said J N Das, Assistant District Conservator of forests.

“On an average an elephant requires 250 kg of fodder and 200 liters of water to survive. However due to shrinking forests, food available to them has depleted, following which they intrude sugarcane and paddy farms for their requirement”, Das informed, and added, “Apart from 120 elephants from Dhenkanal, around 80 from neighboring districts of Keonjhar and Angul enter this area in search of food and water.”

The Kandhra reserve forest in Hindol forest range is a major habitat of pachyderms for which six ponds will be dug in the region. Work on 28 ponds has already begun and digging of eight more ponds will begin soon.

The instances of human–animal conflict in the districts have increased manifold in the recent years. Jumbos from the nearby forests often trespass into the human territory killing several and destroying crops worth crores of rupees. Out of the eight forest ranges in Odisha, seven are severely affected by the jumbo menace.

Pradipta Kumar Sahoo, Divisional Forest Officer, said “the rise in elephant population coupled with water scarcity has posed serious problems due to which the decision was taken to dig ponds.”

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IOC Cancels Places for 2020 Tokyo Games from India after it Refused Visas to Pakistan

India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a suicide bombing in Kashmir last week that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers and has vowed to "isolate" its arch-rival neighbor over the attack.

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IOC, Olympic, India, tokyo games, pakistan
FILE - Shimaa Hashad of Egypt takes part in a pratice session with an air rifle at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup at Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range, in New Delhi, Feb. 20, 2019. VOA

The International Olympic Committee on Thursday canceled places for the 2020 Tokyo Games shooting competition to be awarded at an event in India after the host country refused to give visas to Pakistani shooters, the head of the sport’s governing body said.

India has accused Pakistan of involvement in a suicide bombing in Kashmir last week that killed 40 paramilitary soldiers and has vowed to “isolate” its arch-rival neighbor over the attack.

Sixteen qualifying places for the Tokyo Games were to be decided at the opening shooting World Cup event in New Delhi. But Vladimir Lisin, president of the ISSF world body, said these would now go to other qualifying events.

“The International Olympic Committee informed us this World Cup will not be included in the competitions for Olympic quotas,” Lisin, himself an IOC executive member, told the tournament opening ceremony late Thursday.

“The quotas will be distributed at another World Cup. No one can be discriminated against and we have to follow the IOC decision as part of the IOC family,” he added.

IOC, olympic, tokyo games, india, pakistan
FILE – Indian paramilitary soldiers stand by the wreckage of a bus after an explosion in Pampore, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

The IOC said it was deliberating on the controversy and would soon announce a decision.

Over 500 shooters are taking part in the Indian event, for which competition starts Saturday.

Pakistan, which has denied any role in the Kashmir attack, says two shooters and a coach were denied visas to attend the contest.

Lisin said the International Shooting Sport Federation and the Indian organizing committee had done everything possible to get the shooters to the contest.

But National Rifle Association of India president Raninder Singh said he could not go against the Indian government’s decision.

Singh also insisted no final decision on the Olympic places had been taken.

“Nothing is canceled as of now. The status as of now is we don’t know,” Singh told reporters. “There are meetings that are going on where the position is being assessed by the IOC and the government.”

ALSO READ: Judge Order Government Find Separated Children at US-Mexico Border

Amid widespread anger over last week’s Kashmir attack, some calls have also been made for India’s cricket team to boycott its scheduled World Cup game against Pakistan in England later this year.

Media reports said Indian cricket’s governing body, the BCCI, had prepared a letter calling for Pakistan to be banned from the cricket World Cup. (VOA)