Fear has gripped the residents of a number of villages at Dakkhin Razapur in Shorankhola upazila of Bagerhat district as the footprints of a tiger was found in their locality.
Locals said the presence of tigers in the locality is rare but sometimes they enter the villages in search of food.
They spotted the footprints over a three-kilometre area of the upazila and brought it to the notice of the local Village Tiger Response Team.
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However, the forest officials have taken necessary cautionary steps after the detection of the footprints.
According to the forest officials, the tiger entered the locality after crossing the Bhola River from the Sundarbans and was seen passing Bharani camp under The Forest Department some time on Saturday.
However, the tiger did not harm the villagers and their belongings, said the forest officials.
The villagers have been asked to remain alert, they said.
Locals said they have found the footprints of the tiger beside roads, fields and riverbanks in different parts of the area.
Mohamamd Joynal Abedin, assistant conservator forest (ACF) of Sharankhola range under Sundarbans East zone, said, “Several footprints of the tiger were seen. After scrutinising the marks, we can say whether the tiger entered the locality on Saturday and left it later at night on the same day.”
He also asked the villagers to inform the Forest Department if they see the tiger in the locality again and refrain from making any attack on it.
On October 8, 2020, villagers spotted the footprints of two tigers at West Razapur village along the Sundarbans and those returned to the forest without causing any harm to people and animals.
According to government sources, the number of Royal Bengal Tiger in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans has increased to 114 from 106.
Bangladesh Forest Department jointly with Wildteam and the Smithsonian Conservation Institute, USA, conducted a census and found that the number of Royal Bengal Tiger in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans has increased to 114 from 106.
The second phase census began on December 1, 2016 under the USAID (Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity (BAGH) project through camera trapping methods.
The survey was conducted till the 24th April, 2018 in 1656-sqkm area of the Sundarbans in four phases.
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The total area was divided into three blocks -- Satkhira, Khulna and Sharankhola ranges.
The cameras captured a total of 2,466 images during the 249-day census.
The first-phase survey of the USAID BAGH project recorded 106 tigers in 2015.
As per the information received from the Forest Department in between 2001 and July 2020, altogether 38 tigers died -- 22 in the East Division and 16 in the West Division of the Sundarbans.
Sources at the Forest Department said some of the tigers were killed by poachers, some in lynching, some died during storm and tidal surge while some died of old age.
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On May 14, 2019, a study, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, scientists of Bangladesh and Australia, warned that the Sundarbans’ famed ‘Royal Bengal Tigers’ could be gone within 50 years, especially from the Bangladeshi part, because of constant rise in sea levels and climate change.
DFO Belayet Hossain has said the government has taken various steps to protect tigers in the Sundarbans.
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has decided to intensify its activities, including tax survey, inspection, monitoring and realisation, to increase the country's Tax-GDP ratio, which is currently the lowest in the region despite a 9% growth in individual income tax.
“The Board has already directed all the field offices to intensify and strengthen their respective tax survey to have a justified growth in the coming days,” a senior official of the NBR told UNB.
He said that the Board has also directed the field offices to give extra efforts for collecting advance income tax, which is a good source of income tax collection, where applicable.
The revenue target for the 2020-21 fiscal has been fixed targeting 8.6 percent growth over the revised target for the 2019-20 fiscal.
The initial revenue target for the 2019-20 fiscal was Tk 3778.1 billion, which was later revised to Tk 3480.7 billion.
The total revenue collection target for 2020-21 fiscal, as set out in the budget, is Tk 3780 billion of which the NBR is expected to contribute Tk 3300 billion. The revenue from non-NBR sources was estimated at Tk 150 billion while non-tax revenue at Tk. 330 billion.
Of the grand amount for the NBR, Tk 1039.45 billion will come from income, profit and capital tax; the biggest chunk of Tk 1251.62 billion will come from VAT; while supplementary tax will provide Tk 578.15 billion, import duty Tk 378.07 billion, and miscellaneous items to fill in the rest.
The NBR official mentioned that the time for paying tax installment for the second half is after December. “So the collection for the Income Tax Wing will be in a good position from this month,’ he said.
As part of intensifying the tax survey, information on the owners of property in various areas like Gulshan, Banani, Uttara, Dhanmondi and other posh areas of the capital city will be gathered.
Also read: NBR pulls out all stops to expand tax net
The eligible but not enlisted persons will be given electronic tax identification number (e-TIN) instantly. “Proper directives have been given to the field level officials,” the NBR official said.
Punitive measures will be taken against the e-TIN holders who do not submit their income tax return or apply for time extension.
The NBR teams will visit houses, shops and other commercial establishments in the city’s various areas to find out the potential taxpayers. The officials will take support from service agencies to scrutinise information related to income, wealth and property of the potentially eligible taxpayers.
The survey teams are collecting information related to national identity cards, trade licences and other business documents from people having income from house or business properties and from service or other professions.
According to the NBR sources, the Board has directed the tax commissioners to bring all eligible persons and organisation under the tax net and take initiative to remove the phobia regarding tax payment.
It also asked to intensify the tax survey and activate the inactive TIN numbers as submitting income tax return has been made mandatory for every TIN holder from this fiscal.
The Income Tax Wing of the NBR has already given necessary directives to the field offices in this regard.
As a part of the internal survey, the field level officials have already collected possible taxpayers information from city corporations, Rajuk and sub-registrar offices. This is popularly ‘secondary data’. Secondary data refers to the information of the individuals that are already kept in any organisations.
The NBR also has started to collect information of the potential taxpayers at the upazila level through secondary data gathering, otherwise known as internal survey.
According to data from the October 2019 issue of the World Economic Outlook, the tax-GDP ratio (tax revenue as a percentage of GDP) of the country was a miserly 9.9% on average during 2015-2019, compared to 19.8% for India, 23.9% for Nepal, 14.7% for Pakistan, and 13.5% for Sri Lanka, during the same period.
The ratio is 25.6% for developing countries and 35.9% for developed countries, according to the data.
The tax-GDP ratio is also a marker of how well the government controls a country's economic resources.
According to an official document, the tax-GDP ratio for the current fiscal has been projected at 11.9%, which would be lower than the 12.4% recorded in 2019-20. Despite Covid hitting the revenue generating sectors hard, the government estimates it to rise to 12.2% in 2022-23.
With a history stretching back well over a hundred years, Cumilla Victoria Govt. College is an iconic institution located at the heart of Cumilla city.
The Victoria College Arts Building itself is over 60 years old, and understandably looks worn with age. Almost 6,000 students attend classes across 7 departments housed in the Arts Building.
Unfortunately there are just 3 toilets for these 6000 students, and that inevitably leads to crises. Not to mention, even the three toilets that are there happen to be in horrible condition.
One of the toilets has the door's cleats missing, which means you can't really close the door. And so even when answering nature's call, you can never really do so in peace.
Having said that, it is still better than the one with no door at all. Which, as you can imagine, is pretty useless for a toilet. While broken taps are a common trait shared by all three.
So when authorities one day announced the college would be looking to demolish the old structures and build a modern school/college building with all the amenities, the students could not have been more welcoming.
Mahiuddin Akash, a student of Arabic and Islamic studies department said: "Students of the Arts Building are facing many problems like classroom crisis, toilet shortage and there is no drinkable water. Most of the walls are rotten and notice boards are occupied with outside advertisements."
On a recent visit, apart from 7 classrooms, office space for cultural and voluntary organizations and journalist associations were found on the ground floor of the Arts Building. One of the two male toilets has already been turned into a storeroom; the other one was unusable. Second and third floors are for department offices, seminar rooms and classrooms. Another male toilet on the third floor is also in critical condition. A washroom for the girls is available in the common room located on the second floor.
Jobaida Yasmin Mumu, president of Badhon, a voluntary blood donors’ organization, said: "Three organizations have offices located on the ground floor, where there is no serviceable toilet. Many prominent persons come here as guests. We feel ashamed when they are made to suffer due to these issues. Speedy repair of the toilets is our demand."
Professor Md Ruhul Amin Bhuiyan, principal of Cumilla Victoria Govt. College, told UNB: ‘The brick-sand building is 60 years old and about to expire. Budget requisition for a ten storied new building has been sent to the ministry. As the project may take years to complete, supplementary discussions are being held and we are pleading with the Public Welfare Department to prioritise repairing our toilets first."
According to college sources after establishment in 1899, higher secondary and degree sections were separated in 1960. The degree section was founded 3 kilometers away from the main building in Dharmapur area of the suburb. Both the arts building and Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam hall of the degree section were built in 1960. At present 6,000 students are studying in graduate and postgraduate classes under 7 departments.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has recommended private universities adopt a cluster admission test system similar to the centralised entry exam hosted by public universities to mitigate sufferings of examinees.
In its 47th annual report to the government, the UGC suggested formulating a policy to introduce a unified test for students vying for a seat at the private universities in Dhaka.
A delegation, led by UGC Chairman Professor Kazi Shahidullah, presented the report to President Abdul Hamid at Bangabhaban on Sunday.
Cluster admission system to mitigate hassle
Maria Akter, an admission seeker, told UNB that she plans to study at a private university if she fails to get into a public one.
She explained that going to every private university and sit for separate entry tests would be a waste of time and money.
"The cluster system will help me find a private university easily. It’ll save a lot of hassle," she said.
Admission seekers as well as their guardians welcomed the UGC recommendation.
Rabbil Bhuiyan from Rangpur, whose daughter is an admission seeker, told UNB that it is a matter of relief for people like them.
“It’ll be really helpful if the recommendation is executed,” he said.
“I’m not in a position to roam around the city going from one university to another for my daughter’s admission nor can I leave my daughter on her own in the city since it’s not safe. I hope the authorities concerned will consider the issue very seriously," he said.
Integrated test system to help universities
Chairman of the Association of Private University of Bangladesh (APUB) Sheikh Kabir Hossain told UNB that this will be a very welcoming initiative for the private universities, if it works properly.
"We haven’t been formally informed about this. But it’s a positive approach from UGC. It’ll help all universities to get students proportionately. Students can also admit themselves considering the standard of the universities," he said.
Hossain hoped the UGC would sit with them to set the forms and formalities of the cluster system before introducing it.
“It’ll be fruitful if most of the universities participate in the system. The UGC will have to come up with an acceptable formula," he added.
UGC Chairman Professor Shahidullah told UNB that the 47th annual report made some recommendations on the current situation, problems and solutions at public and private universities.
The introduction of cluster system in private is one of them, he noted.
Prof Shahidullah said UGC has been trying to arrange cluster system admission test for a long time to put an end to the suffering of admission seekers and their parents. “This time, it was possible for coronavirus outbreak,” he said.
A centralised admission test will come as a relief to the aspirants and their guardians. “We made the recommendation considering these issues,” the UGC chairman said.
Not all roses
The UGC sat with public universities in March and decided to go with cluster admission test system for the academic year 2020-21 even after top universities refused to accept the uniform admission system.
The decision was taken at a meeting between UGC Chairman Shahidullah and vice-chancellors of 34 public universities, at UGC office in Dhaka.
But VCs of Dhaka University, Jahangirnagar University and Rajshahi University did not take part in the meeting.
In a handout on Dec 1, the UGC said 19 general, science, and technology universities are scheduled to hold admission tests for the 2020-2021 academic year under the cluster system.
The decision was taken at an exchange meeting with the VCs of the respective universities held at Jagannath University.
Dhaka University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Jahangirnagar University, Rajshahi University and Chittagong University will not join this cluster admission system because of their previous refusal.
Jashore farmers had been worrying at the sharp fall in cabbage price, but the recent initiative to export the winter vegetable to Singapore has brought smile to their faces.
According to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), an export firm, ‘City Impex’, collected cabbage from the farmers recently and started exporting it to Singapore after processing.
The first consignment of 20,000 pieces of cabbage was exported to Singapore from the field of Shahbazpur in Sadar upazila last week.
Jagoroni Chakra Foundation, a private organisation, named and Solidaridad Network Asia are working with the farmers, the DAE and the export farm through a project named ‘SaFaL project’ took the initiative to export vegetables.
‘Safe vegetables’ weighing 74,314 kgs, including bottle gourd, green papaya, snake gourd, pointed gourd, raw banana, bean and eggplants were exported to Europe and Middle Eastern countries from September to December under their initiative.
A temporary processing zone was built along the Bhairab River where people are seen passing busy time in packaging the cabbage, scheduled to go to Singapore, in a tent.
During a recent visit, a UNB correspondent found the cabbage being taken to the tent from fields directly and then the workers were wrapping those in white newspaper and then keeping those in nylon bags.
Shamsul Alam, deputy director of Plant Quarantine Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension, inaugurated the export activities recently in presence of local DAE officials.
Shafiqur Rahman, an exporter, said, “The cabbage will be taken to Chattogram port by a covered van and then it will be shipped to Singapore. The shipment will take four to five days to reach Singapore. We’ve taken the initiative for the first time.”
Usually, potatoes and dry food are exported to various countries from Bangladesh.
“If we can ensure the quality of our product and satisfy the customers, then it’ll be possible to export two consignments of cabbage in a week,” he said.
Mobin, a farmer in Shahbazpur, said, “I’ve brought seven bighas of land under cabbage cultivation. On the first day, I sold 3,000 pieces of cabbage from my land at Tk 8-9 per piece. We get Tk 5-7 from local market for per piece. We’re making profit and that’s important.”
Rezaul, another cabbage grower, said, “The cultivation process of the cabbage is different as only vermicompost and organic fertilizer is used for cultivation. Farmers use vermicompost for cabbage cultivation as it’s safe and poison free. I’ve cultivated 48,000 pieces of cabbage and managed to sell cabbage, worth Tk 5,000, on the first day.”
Touhidul Islam, director of ‘SaFaL Project’ said, “We’ve created direct link between farmers and exporter so that farmers can make profit without any hassle of middlemen. The DAE is supervising the whole process.”
Badal Chandra Roy, a deputy director at DAE, Jashore, said, “Some 16,400 hectares of land have been brought under vegetable cultivation in Jashore and 75 hectares of land used for cabbage cultivation. Now the vegetables of Jashore are being exported after meeting the local demand.”
Vegetable production on the rise
Vegetable production marked a rise by 35.24 percent over the last five years (from2013-14 to 2017-18 FY) in Bangladesh.
According to officials at the (DAE), some 26,230,927 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year from 1,169,326 hectares of land, while 19,396,755 metric tonnes in 2013-2014 fiscal year from 9,68827 hectares.
Additional 26,47,786 metric tonnes of vegetables were produced in 2017-18 fiscal year compared to 2016-17 FY. 19,984,334 metric tonnes produced in 2015-2016 fiscal year, while it was 21,041,406 metric tonnes in 2014-15FY, according to annual data of the department.
Besides, 7,30,991 metric tonnes root-crops/vegetables (excluding potatoes) were produced in 2017-2018 fiscal year against 5,72,946 metric tonnes in the previous year, the data revealed.