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A diesel ferry cuts through the Poshur river — the lifeline of Sundarbans — with travelers watching its heavily industrialized bank, which is rapidly increasing at the cost of world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest.
Activists are looking with a wary eye at the upcoming 1,320 MW coal-based power project being set up by India’s NTPC, a mere 14 km north of the Sundarban Reserve Forests and four kilometres from the Ecologically Critical Area (ECA), which they say would pose a threat to the wildlife and dependent communities.
The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project at Rampal in Khulna division is being constructed in an area of over 1,832 acres on the eastern bank of Poshur. In August 2010, a pact was signed between India and Bangladesh to set up the project.
While journalists and protestors are not allowed near the project, a small group of visiting journalists from India could see for themselves the massive erosion, waterless canals, huge waterway traffic, oil spills and major infrastructure coming up along the river.
Some 10 km before the busy Mongla Port is a broad 5.5 km-long road west of the Mongla-Khulna highway that goes to the project site. Around this road there were some 5,000 families which were displaced, we are told.
Sushanto Das, one of the land owners in Bagerhat district, lost over 33 acres of land. “My house was burned down by the local goon with support of the local Member of Parliament. I approached the court. Now they don’t even allow us to protest at the site,” he told IANS from his residence in Ranjitpur, a town between Khulna and Sunderbans.
At places, the river, along this special economic zone, has become much broader because of excessive erosion of its banks. Ferrymen say that because of this, the Poshur is becoming more aggressive. The western bank, where forest communities dwell and ECA begins, is also being industrialized.
A 2016 joint report by the governments of India and Bangladesh — and supported by the world bank — on the status of tigers in the Sundarbans, a copy of which is with IANS, criticized this coal-fired project, saying it would further “exacerbate the problem” of climate change, pollution and tiger conservation. As per official count, Sundarbans had 180 tigers in 2015. Now, those in the area are under threat.
The report, which labels vessels plying on the Poshur as “mobile bombs”, reminds everyone of the December 2014 incident when 358,000 liters of oil spilled into the Sela.
Spread across 10,000 sq km — of which 62 per cent is in Bangladesh — the Sundarbans, lying in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal, were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. For Bangladesh, it accounts for 44 per cent of its forest area, generating 50 percent of the forest revenue from tourism, fishery and the sale of honey.
A wetland of global importance, the ecosystem saves the inlands from cyclones, stabilizes sediments and makes the region a nursery of major fisheries, playing a key role in food security.
“All this stand threatened. The power plant is located to make best use of the river but existing power industries are already discharging effluents into the river and ash in the atmosphere,” Dr Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, Professor Environment Science at Khulna University, told IANS, warning of a micro-climate change altering different patches of the Sundarbans.
With warming of water, Chowdhury observed that soil quality had dropped and salinity in the area had increased over time, threatening its flora and fauna. “The government doesn’t check how natural resources are being overexploited. The DoE (Department of Environment) gives license to industries under pressure,” Chowdhury said.
UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global organization, have already raised an alarm over the Rampal project. “There is only one Sundarbans in the world, once destroyed, no amount of money could replicate it,” he said.
The $1.6 billion power project is controlled by Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd (BIFPCL), a 2012 private venture comprising India’s NTPC and the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) is constructing the plant which is scheduled to start operations in 2019.
Queries sent to NTPC and BIFPCL went unanswered.
Ironically, India plans to phase out coal-power and not sanction any new project after 2022.
While the Bangladesh government has judged the project location to be at a “safe” distance from the mangrove forest, facts suggest otherwise.
According to a Bangladesh’s Department of Environment (DoE) document, available with IANS, several “red-category” industries — oil refinery, ship building, cement, gas cylinder, brick kilns, LPG, saw mills and
others — operate deep within the ECA across Khulna, Bagerhat and Satkhir districts. Also, a railway line is being set up there to import coal from West Bengal to Jessore.
The Bangladesh government in 1999 declared a 10 km radius from the reserve forest as ECA. However, DoE permitted setting up of over 190 industries, located 1.5 to 9 km from the forest reserve, of which 24 units are listed as “Red” or “extremely harmful”, 63 are “Orange (A)” or “harmful” and 103 are “Orange (B)” or “less-harmful”. Not a single industry within ECA is “Green” or “safe”.
According to environment experts, heavy industrialization in the region had blocked canals, eroded the banks and sunk several villages. “Over 50,000 people suffered, mostly from the minority Hindu community, and many have migrated to India,” environmentalist Sharif Jamil from Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan (BAPA) told IANS.
Local activists said that with the assurance of cheap power from the project, over 300 industrial units, 190 within ECA, had made a beeline to the area. “Had you visited the region a few years back, you would’ve found a different Poshur,” Jamil said.
Sundarbans has thousands of interconnected canals which balances the pressure on the main river.
“Industries level those canals, putting extra pressure on the river, causing erosion,” Jamil said, adding that Banishanta, Laudob, Shelabuniya, Amtali, Sindurtala, Kalabari and Joymoni areas suffered the maximum erosion.
“Crocodile nestings have vanished from Joymoni near Mongla, tiger too,” Professor Chowdhury said, adding that a “proper study” was difficult since the government doesn’t allow it.
According to academicians in Dhaka, an anti-India feeling is slowly taking shape. Some locals who were affected told IANS that they had got death and rape threats and were attacked by musclemen while protesting. Several refused to talk. Many cases have landed in the courts.
“We approached the Left parties in India too for help. But D. Raja (National Secretary of the Communist Party of India) told us that they cannot help as Bangladesh itself had asked for it (the power plant),” Anu Muhammad, Professor of Economics at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, told IANS. He was later denied a visa to attend a conference in New Delhi. Even a tourist visa to India was declined. (IANS)
A Travel Sustainable badge, provides highly coveted information to travellers all over the world looking to make more sustainable travel choices. Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industryNinety-eight per cent of Indian travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the coming year, and with more than 28 million listings on Booking.com, the company sees a huge opportunity to highlight more of the impactful efforts its partners are making to create more sustainable experiences, making it easier for travellers to find a sustainable way to stay.
Booking.com has launched the Travel Sustainable Badge, a first of its kind in the industry | Photo by yousef alfuhigi on Unsplash
With 88 percent of Indian travellers indicating that they would be more likely to choose a specific accommodation that implements sustainable practices, it rewards and encourages providers to take the next steps on their individual sustainability journeys. "Building a truly sustainable travel industry will take time, coordination, and concerted effort," said Marianne Gybels, Director of Sustainability at Booking.com. "However, progress is possible through continued innovation, partner support, and industry collaboration."
"We are recognising the sustainability efforts of a broader range of properties globally in a credible and transparent manner for consumers." Displaying the practices they have in place allows everyone to make a more informed and hopefully more sustainable decision for their next trip, no matter where they want to go. As a result, we've inspired even more of our partners to take the next step toward more sustainable operations."
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: travel, sustainable travel, india, travellers, innovation.
South Korean game developer has introduced a new initiative for Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) which will enable a new level of parental control via time limitations and OTP confirmation. The 'Game Responsibly' initiative will also show warning messages along with break reminders, game limits and more. "Every player, below the age of 18, needs to register a parent or a guardian before they start playing for the first time. An OTP will be sent to the registered person's number, post which the minor is allowed to play the game," the company said in a statement.
Some games can get intense and make players lose track of time. However, with timely break-time reminders, the developer has made sure players get the required downtime. These reminders will help them look up from their game and get back to real life, maintaining a healthy game-life balance. In addition, with a strict gameplay limit in place players below 18 years must not indulge in gaming for more than 3 hours per day. This automatically helps them treat gaming as an activity performed in moderation.
The brand has also set an in-game daily spend limit of Rs 7,000 that automatically stops them from overspending and overgaming. Krafton recently announced that it has removed 25 lakh accounts in just over a month to eradicate cheating on Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI). Since the last announcement, between October 1 and November 10, Krafton banned 25,19,692 accounts permanently and 7,06,319 temporarily. "The company has cleaned out most of the cheaters in the game, making BGMI a much more fun experience, and will continue to take whatever step is necessary to keep BGMI fair and fun," it claimed. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: BGMI, parental control, Battlegrounds Mobile India, Krafton, South Korea
By Vinoda Kumary
The rise in air pollution, coupled with lousy lifestyle habits, is causing a spike in respiratory diseases. According to a Lancet report, the contribution of chronic respiratory diseases in India increased from 4.5 per cent in 1990 to 6.4 per cent in 2016. With respiratory issues on the rise, there is an increased demand for natural solutions to treat such issues. Instead of conventional medicine, people are turning to alternative medical therapies to find cures for ailments.
Common Lung Disorders
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. This leads to narrowing of the air pathways and excess mucus causes wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing. It is a chronic condition that interferes seriously with daily life.
Bronchitis is a health condition that causes inflammation in the airways of the lungs. | Wikimedia Commons
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
It is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that obstructs the airflow to the lungs. Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. It can result from long-term exposure to irritating gases or particulate matter, most often from cigarette smoke. Those affected by COPD are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease, and a variety of other conditions.
Symptoms of COPD include breathing difficulty, mucus (sputum) production, coughing, and wheezing. | Pixabay
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. The lungs' airways are constantly inflamed as chronic bronchitis often lasts for months on end. Symptoms of chronic bronchitis include incessant coughing, whistling sounds while breathing, wheezing and a tightening of the chest. It is said that the cure for all ailments is available the natural way. Here are some of the alternative medicine approaches to treat respiratory disorders.
This is another variation of COPD. Bronchitis causes a similar build-up of mucus that can cause inflammation and coughing. | Needpix
Alternative Medicinal Approaches to Treat Respiratory Disorders
Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases. One of the primary causes of asthma is allergies, which often result from the food consumed. It is crucial, therefore, to first prepare a diet that is suitable for an individual. Often, dairy products, meats, and certain nuts can increase the production of mucus. Foods like these must be avoided. Also, antioxidants can prevent damage resulting from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients.
Diet is important in this regard, as fruits and vegetables high in Vitamins A, C, and E can improve the condition of COPD patients. | Photo by Bruna Branco on Unsplash
Yoga and Exercise
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. Exercises like cycling, swimming, yoga etc. that create a need for full capacity breathing are of great importance. Exercising the diaphragm is important and simple activities can go a long way in the treatment of the same. Pranayama, the practice of controlled breathing, is an integral part of alternative treatment for people suffering from respiratory issues. This extensive breathing practice helps to expand the lungs and improve the capacity of the lungs, which helps an individual breathe more freely.
Treatment of lung disorders often involves the use of the lungs to promote healthy breathing habits. | Photo by kike vega on Unsplash
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies.
Nasal irrigation systems like JalNeti using a Neti pot can help to rinse the sinuses, which may provide some relief from symptoms of respiratory allergies. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
The traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into the skin to stimulate certain parts of the body. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, people with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo.
People with allergic rhinitis who were given acupuncture treatments twice a week for eight weeks had fewer symptoms than those administered placebo. | Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash
It is important to remember that no one complementary or alternative therapy works well for everyone with respiratory issues. Therefore, a proper assessment is done before deciding on the approach to the treatment plan. For those considering alternative medicine for their respiratory problems, it is recommended to speak to an expert first and discuss the approach that may work best.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Yoga, exercise, Nasal Irrigation, Diet, Chronic Bronchitis, Respiratory Issues