Bangladesh's Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury on Saturday (February 24, 2024) said that the government would introduce incentive packages to promote the production of environmentally-friendly block bricks. Saber came up with the announcement during a media interaction following a meeting with officials from the Forest Department and the Department of Environment at Feni Circuit House on Saturday. Brick kiln owners can be benefited from these incentives as part of the government's efforts to transition away from air-polluting and land-damaging brick kilns, he said, emphasising the need for the designation of specific areas for waste recycling by municipalities. The minister urged officials to take proactive measures to combat environmental pollution, including the prohibition of polythene use. Read more: Govt working to promote climate-resilient crops: Saber Hossain He stressed prompt actions in cases where environmental clearance is lacking and urged against delays in issuing such clearances. Moreover, Minister Saber underscored the need for the daily clearance of medical and municipal waste and instructed divisional forest officials to reclaim encroached forest land and initiate afforestation projects in urban and coastal regions. Chaired by Feni District Magistrate Shahina Akter, various officials including BRTA Chairman Nur Mohammad, Additional Superintendent of Police Din Mohammad, Additional District Magistrate Abishek Das, Divisional Forest Officer Ruhul Amin, and Feni Department of Environment Deputy Director Showkat Ara Kali, among others were present on the occasion. Following the meeting, Feni Awami League General Secretary and local MP Nizam Uddin Hazari and Feni sadar municipality Mayor Nazrul Islam Swapon Miaji exchanged greetings with the environment minister with floral tributes. Read more: Is There Any Alternative to Brick Kilns?
For centuries, brick kilns, characterised by fiery chimneys and billowing smoke, have played a key role in the construction industry. Despite their contribution in providing essential building materials, their operations entail harmful impacts on human health, biodiversity and environment. What is a Brick Kiln? A brick kiln is a specialised facility used in the production of bricks, fundamental building blocks for construction. These kilns play a vital role in shaping the urban landscape. The process involves heating clay or other materials in furnaces to create bricks and contributes to the growth of infrastructure. However, the traditional methods employed in brick kilns can have environmental and health consequences, making it imperative to explore sustainable alternatives and technologies. Impacts of Brick Kiln on Health Particulate Matter Emissions Brick kilns pose a major health risk due to the emission of particulate matter, including pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Inhaling these pollutants can irritate the lungs, leading to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Prolonged exposure may contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Read more: 9 illegal brick kilns shut down, fined Tk 47 lakh in Sirajganj Respiratory Issues Prolonged exposure to emissions from brick kilns can lead to a range of respiratory problems. From workers within the kilns to residents in nearby communities, the inhalation of pollutants can result in asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory ailments. Occupational Health Risks Workers directly involved in brick kiln operations face occupational health risks due to exposure to high temperatures, dust, and pollutants. Adequate safety measures and protective equipment are crucial to mitigating these risks. Cardiovascular Problems Brick kiln fumes, laden with pollutants, can obstruct arteries, elevate blood pressure, and disturb heart rhythms. These adverse effects heighten the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, underlining the severe cardiovascular risks associated with exposure. Read more: 4 brick kilns shut down for polluting air in South Keraniganj Skin Problems Dust and irritants emanating from brick kilns inflict skin torment on workers, causing rashes, itching, and burns. The daily grind leaves exposed skin raw, rendering workers vulnerable and uncomfortable in their work environment. Cancer Inhaling brick kiln fumes conceal invisible dangers, harbouring carcinogens that escalate cancer risks over time. Exposed workers face heightened threats of lung, skin, and other cancers, emphasising the risks associated with prolonged exposure.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Affairs Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury on Sunday said the government wants to hold anyone involved in producing single-use plastics accountable. The minister also said his ministry is taking initiative to make rules in this regard. Saber Hossain said this in reply to a call attention notice of ruling Awami League MP elected from Dhaka-10 Ferdous Ahmed in Parliament. Islami Bank holds employee conference in Chattogram The minister said 30,000 metric tons of solid waste is being produced every day throughout Bangladesh. Of this total, around 7000 metric tons are being produced in the Dhaka city and 10 percent of this waste is single used plastic. 5-yr-old boy burned to death in Savar “We intend to phase out production and distribution of single used plastic. We are taking action in this regard.” The minister also proposed to ban single-use plastics. “If it is possible, it will be an example for the country.” Shab-e-Barat on February 25 Earlier while speaking on his notice, Ferdous Ahmed demanded a ban on single-use plastic products. “If usage of one time plastic products cannot be stopped, it will be a challenge to protect the capital's environment,” he also said.
The last 12 months were the hottest Earth has ever recorded, according to a new report by Climate Central, a nonprofit science research group. The peer-reviewed report says burning gasoline, coal, natural gas and other fossil fuels that release planet-warming gases like carbon dioxide, and other human activities, caused the unnatural warming from November 2022 to October 2023. Over the course of the year, 7.3 billion people, or 90% of humanity, endured at least 10 days of high temperatures that were made at least three times more likely because of climate change. Western and Arab officials are gathering in Paris to find ways to provide aid to civilians in Gaza "People know that things are weird, but they don't they don't necessarily know why it's weird. They don't connect back to the fact that we're still burning coal, oil and natural gas," said Andrew Pershing, a climate scientist at Climate Central. "I think the thing that really came screaming out of the data this year was nobody is safe. Everybody was experiencing unusual climate-driven heat at some point during the year," said Pershing. The average global temperature was 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the pre-industrial climate, which scientists say is close to the limit countries agreed not to go over in the Paris Agreement — a 1.5 C (2.7 F) rise. The impacts were apparent as one in four humans, or 1.9 billion people, suffered from dangerous heat waves. At this point, said Jason Smerdon, a climate scientist at Columbia University, no one should be caught off guard. "It's like being on an escalator and being surprised that you're going up," he said. "We know that things are getting warmer, this has been predicted for decades." Israeli military tour of northern Gaza reveals ravaged buildings, toppled trees, former weapons lab Here's how a few regions were affected by the extreme heat: 1. Extreme heat fueled destructive rainfall because a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which lets storms release more precipitation. Storm Daniel became Africa's deadliest storm with an estimated death toll that ranges between 4,000 and 11,000, according to officials and aid agencies. Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey also saw damages and fatalities from Storm Daniel. 2. In India, 1.2 billion people, or 86% of the population, experienced at least 30 days of elevated temperatures, made at least three times more likely by climate change. 3. Drought in Brazil's Amazon region caused rivers to dry to historic lows, cutting people off from food and fresh water. 4. At least 383 people died in U.S. extreme weather events, with 93 deaths related to the Maui wildfire event, the deadliest U.S. fire of the century. 5. One of every 200 people in Canada evacuated their home due to wildfires, which burn longer and more intensely after long periods of heat dry out the land. Canadian fires sent smoke billowing across much of North America. 6. On average, Jamaica experienced high temperatures made four times more likely by climate change during the last 12 months, making it the country where climate change was most powerfully at work. India bars protests that support Palestinians "We need to adapt, mitigate and be better prepared for the residual damages because impacts are highly uneven from place to place," said Kristie Ebi, a professor at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the University of Washington, citing changes in precipitation, sea level rise, droughts, and wildfires. The heat of the last year, intense as it was, is tempered because the oceans have been absorbing the majority of the excess heat related to climate change, but they are reaching their limit, said Kim Cobb, a climate scientist at Brown University. "Oceans are really the thermostat of our planet ... they are tied to our economy, food sources, and coastal infrastructure."
Schools in New Delhi were forced to close Monday after heavy monsoon rains battered the Indian capital, with landslides and flash floods killing at least 15 people over the last three days. Farther north, the overflowing Beas River swept vehicles downstream as it flooded neighborhoods. In Japan, torrential rain pounded the southwest, causing floods and mudslides that left two people dead and at least six others missing Monday. Local TV showed damaged houses in Fukuoka prefecture and muddy water from the swollen Yamakuni River appearing to threaten a bridge in the town of Yabakei. New Delhi schools close after monsoon floods kill at least 15, Pakistan on alert for more flooding In Ulster County, in New York’s Hudson Valley and in Vermont, some said the flooding is the worst they’ve seen since Hurricane Irene’s devastation in 2011. Although destructive flooding in India, Japan, China, Turkey and the United States might seem like distant events, atmospheric scientists say they have this in common: Storms are forming in a warmer atmosphere, making extreme rainfall a more frequent reality now. The additional warming that scientists predict is coming will only make it worse. Heavy rains cause flooding and mudslides in southwest Japan, leaving 2 dead and at least 6 missing That’s because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, which results in storms dumping more precipitation that can have deadly outcomes. Pollutants, especially carbon dioxide and methane, are heating up the atmosphere. Instead of allowing heat to radiate away from Earth into space, they hold onto it. While climate change is not the cause of storms unleashing the rainfall, these storms are forming in an atmosphere that is becoming warmer and wetter. “Sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit can hold twice as much water as 50 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay. “Warm air expands and cool air contracts. You can think of it as a balloon - when it’s heated the volume is going to get larger, so therefore it can hold more moisture.” 'Life threatening' flooding overwhelms New York roadways, killing 1 person For every 1 degree Celsius, which equals 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the atmosphere warms, it holds approximately 7% more moisture. According to NASA, the average global temperature has increased by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. “When a thunderstorm develops, water vapor gets condensed into rain droplets and falls back down to the surface. So as these storms form in warmer environments that have more moisture in them, the rainfall increases,” explained Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami. Along Turkey’s mountainous and scenic Black Sea coast, heavy rains swelled rivers and damaged cities with flooding and landslides. At least 15 people were killed by flooding in another mountainous region, in southwestern China. 15 killed by floods in southwestern China as seasonal torrents hit mountain areas “As the climate gets warmer we expect intense rain events to become more common, it’s a very robust prediction of climate models,” Soden added. “It’s not surprising to see these events happening, it’s what models have been predicting ever since day one.” Gavin Schmidt, climatologist and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said the regions being hit hardest by climate change are not the ones who emit the largest amount of planet-warming pollutants. Better flood management: China offers assistance for dredging rivers in Bangladesh “The bulk of the emissions have come from the industrial Western nations and the bulk of the impacts are happening in places that don’t have good infrastructure, that are less prepared for weather extremes and have no real ways to manage this,” said Schmidt.
Plastic pollution has emerged as one of the most pressing environmental issues of our time, posing significant threats to both human health and the environment. As we observe World Environment Day today (June 5, 2023), it is crucial to shed light on the harmful effects of plastic pollution and raise awareness about the urgent need for action. This global observance serves as a timely reminder that the choices we make today have far-reaching consequences for the well-being of our planet and future generations. Harmful Effects of Plastic Pollution on Human Health Plastic pollution has become a major environmental concern in recent years, and its impact on human health is a growing area of research. Here are some of the harmful effects of plastic pollution on human health. Exposure to Microplastic Microplastics, small plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size, have infiltrated various aspects of our lives, including our food and water sources. These tiny particles are found in high concentrations in the oceans, freshwater bodies, and even the air we breathe. Seafood, such as fish and shellfish, often contain microplastics due to their ingestion of plastic debris in the marine environment. As a result, when we consume these contaminated seafood, we unknowingly ingest microplastics. Read more: Effects of Air Pollution on Unborn Children, Neonates, Infants Microplastics can accumulate in our bodies over time, causing potential harm. These particles can pass through the intestinal wall and migrate to other organs, leading to inflammation, tissue damage, and disruption of normal cellular functions. Some studies suggest that microplastics may also have the potential to transport harmful chemicals and pathogens, further exacerbating health risks.
Speakers at a discussion on Tuesday called for coordinated efforts by enlisting the support of the people to save Bangladesh’s common rivers and the environment. They made the call while addressing a discussion organized by the International Farakka Committee (IFC) to mark the Farakka Long March Day 2023 at the National Press Club. Today (May 16) is the Farakka Long March Day. On this day in 1976, leader of the toiling masses Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani led the March from Rajshahi to Kansat near the Bangladesh-India border to protest unilateral withdrawal of Ganges water, ensure due share of water and protection of Bangladesh’s environment. The speakers said the long march paved the way for signing of the first Ganges Water Sharing Treaty in 1977. Subsequently a MoU and an agreement were signed but without the main safety valve - guarantee clause. Also Read: Ensure flow of common rivers, avert disaster: Farakka Committee With Mostafa Kamal Majumder, the coordinator of IFC, in the chair, the function was addressed, among others, by Mostafa Jamal Haider, chairman of Jatiya Party (Jamal), Saiful Huq, general secretary of Biplabi Workers’ Party, Shahidullah Kaysar, general secretary of Nagorik, Oikya, and Elahi Newaz Khan former president of Dhaka Union of Journalists (DUJ) The speakers said that Bangladesh now can do nothing if water does not flow from upstream. On the other hand, the country remains deprived of normal flooding due to construction of embankments on all 54 common rivers, but faces devastating floods at intervals, they observed. In the dry season, a process of desertification is observed in the northern and the south-western parts of Bangladesh. Also Read: Don’t sign off on Kushiara before Teesta: Farakka Committee The Farakka Long March of Moulana Bhashani thus remains relevant even to this day, the speakers said. They said that as the largest delta in the world, Bangladesh owes its origin to rivers which carried silt to form the land over the millennia. Disruption of flows of rivers has threatened the geographical integrity of this land of rivers. The environmental balance of the country is in jeopardy due to reduction of flows of rivers for five decades. Harmful salinity of seawater has reached from the shore to Aricha in Manikganj with devastating effects on the river ecosystem, they said. They said that as the natural floodplains do no longer have normal flooding during the wet season, indigenous fish, aquatic organisms, weeds, water lilies and other aquatic plants have disappeared from many districts. Again, being deprived of the dry season flows, many small rivers in the lower catchments of the Ganges and the Teesta have died. In such a situation the life and livelihood of people have come under severe stress. The speakers said Bangladesh would not have experienced such environmental disasters if International law relating to rivers and water was upheld. Common rivers should continue to flow from their origins to their outfalls in the sea, otherwise, they will die, they said. Water experts of India and the rest of the world are aware of the river-environmental disasters in Bangladesh and are vocal against them. The speakers said that raising a voice against this cannot be termed as enmity. Works are ongoing worldwide on proper sharing of rivers and cooperation between upper-riparian and lower-riparian peoples. They said that without this, rivers will not remain alive. Bangladesh should raise a strong voice to assert this and take steps to ensure natural flows of rivers and protect the riverine environment The speakers eulogized the foresight of Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani and urged all concerned to take inspiration from the lesson he taught at the age of 96 in the movement to protect the environmental balance of Bangladesh. The meeting sympathized with IFC New York chairman, Atiqur Rahman Salu who had fallen ill and prayed for his early recovery. Earlier, Dr. SI Khan, former adviser to the UN on water and environment and Sr. Vice-President, IFC Bangladesh, made a keynote speech. Samyabadi Dal leader Kazi Mostafa Kamal, US-based senior journalist and poet Salem Suleri and IFC organising secretary Ataur Rahman Ata were among those who spoke at the function.
On the receding shorelines of low-lying Vypin Island off India’s western coast, T. P. Murukesan fixed his eyes on the white paint peeling off the damp walls of his raised home and recounted the most recent floods. “The floods are occurring more frequently and lasting longer,” he said. The last flood was chest-height for his young grandson. “Every flood brings waters this high, we just deal with it.” Sea level rise and severe tidal floods have forced many families in Murukesan’s neighborhood to relocate to higher grounds over the years. But the retired fisherman has almost singlehandedly been buffering the impacts of the rising waters on his home and in his community. Known locally as “Mangrove Man,” Murukesan has turned to planting the trees along the shores of Vypin and the surrounding areas in the Kochi region of Kerala state to counter the impacts of rising waters on his home. Tidal flooding occurs when sea level rise combines with local factors to push water levels above the normal levels. Mangroves can provide natural coastal defenses against sea level rise, tides and storm surges, but over the course of his life forest cover in the state has dwindled. Murukesan said he grew up surrounded by beautiful, abundant mangroves that separated islands from the sea. Now, only fragmented patches of mangroves can be seen in Kochi, the state’s financial capital. “They protected our houses against floods, sea erosion, and storms, used to be an inseparable part of our life, our ecosystem,” he said. “Only these can save us.” EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is part of a series produced under the India Climate Journalism Program, a collaboration between The Associated Press, the Stanley Center for Peace and Security and the Press Trust of India. Murukesan said he has planted over 100,000 mangroves. He plants saplings on alternate days and does most of the work himself. Some help comes in the form of saplings from the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, a non-government organization based in Chennai, India. His efforts come up against a strong trend in the opposite direction. Ernakulam district, which includes Kochi, has lost nearly 42% of its mangrove ecosystems, including major decreases in the southern Puthuvypeen area in Vypin, according to a study released last year by the Indian Space Research Organization and the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies. Mangrove cover in the state has reduced from 700 square kilometers (435 square miles) to just 24 square kilometers (15 square miles) since 1975, according to the Kerala Forest department. “The construction of coastal roads and highways has severely damaged mangrove ecosystems in the state,” said K K Ramachandran, former member secretary of the Kerala Coastal Zone Management Authority, a government body mandated to protect the coastal environment. “There should be an incentive for people who are making efforts to protect them.” Murukesan’s dedication to the cause has won him praise, awards and the audience of senior politicians but not incentives beyond the immediate benefits to his home. He said the mangroves he planted in and around the area in 2014 have grown into a dense thicket and are helping reduce the intensity of tidal flooding, but he’s nevertheless continuing his efforts. Despite the thousands of new mangrove trees, other factors like climate change mean tidal floods have become more frequent and severe, sometimes keeping children from going to school and people from getting to work. It's all mentally exhausting, Murukesan and his wife, Geetha, said. “I have to travel a lot to collect seeds. My wife helps me in the nursery as much as she can. I am tired but I cannot stop,” he said. Geetha said they do the tough work “for our children,” preserving the forest for decades to come. “It keeps us going,” she said. Vypin is at high-risk for tidal flooding, said Abhilash S, director of the Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research at the Cochin University of Science and Technology. “The sea level has risen and has damaged freshwater supplies. Sea erosion and spring tides have worsened. Coastal flooding is a common occurrence now," he said. “The carrying capacity of the backwaters has reduced due to sediment deposition and encroachment, and the rainwater enters residential areas during the monsoon season.” Backwaters in the state of Kerala are networks of canals, lagoons and lakes parallel to coastal areas, unique ecosystems that help provide a buffer to rising sea levels. According to the World Meteorological Organization, global mean sea level rose by 4.5 millimeters per year between 2013 and 2022. It’s a major threat for countries like India, China, the Netherlands and Bangladesh, which comprise large coastal populations. NASA projections show that Kochi might experience a sea level rise of 0.22 meters (8.7 inches) by 2050, and over half a meter (nearly 20 inches) by 2100 in a middle-of-the-road climate warming scenario. “Many families have left,” Murukesan said. Fishing families living within 50 meters (55 yards) of the shore get a financial assistance of 10 lakh rupees ($12,000) through a rehabilitation scheme run by the Kerala government. Only few of those not covered under it have means to relocate to safer places. Some fishing families shift to government shelters in the monsoon season and return after it ends. A few have built stilt houses that stand on columns to fight tidal floods. Murukesan knows the sea is rising, but it’s the backwaters that make him more anxious. The backwaters have become shallow due to the silt deposited by heavy floods. During heavy rain events, the water inundates the island. “We are caught between the sea and the backwaters. They are likely to swallow the island in some years, but I am not going anywhere," he said. “I was born here, and I will die here.”
Although there are 41 recognised river routes between Dhaka and the south coast, at present there are commercial launches operating from Sadarghat terminal of Dhaka river port on just 25 routes. Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) sources said that launches are not plying the remaining river channels due to the shortage of passengers. However, launch owners say that 15 waterways have apparently been abandoned due to poor navigability. They said, this crisis has been created due to lack of sufficient dredging. They claim that even on the 25 waterways that are operational, launches ply on just 19 of those. Launch movement on the remaining 6 routes is irregular. Also Read: CSOs demand investigations into irregularities in dredger pilotage, repair Rights activists complain that there is no transparency and accountability in excavation and dredging works. Due to this, there are irregularities and corruption in this important work. Launch owners also have the same complaint that waterways are not being dredged properly due to lack of transparency and accountability. Badiuzzaman Badal, Senior Vice President of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport (Passenger carrier) Association, an organisation of launch owners, said, “We are a major stakeholder in the shipping sector. But we are not involved in river dredging. Our opinion is not taken on which route has more or less navigability crisis." Referring to the lack of minimum transparency and accountability in dredging, Badiuzzaman Badal said, “BIWTA is doing the job as per their wish leading to widespread irregularities and corruption. As a result, general people, including water transport owners, are not getting the benefits. As the launch cannot proceed in many waterways due to the navigability crisis, in order to reach many destinations, one has to travel much more than the prescribed distance, wasting extra time. On the one hand, the fuel cost of the owners increases, on the other hand, the passengers do not want to board the launch because of the extra time wasted.” Also Read: NCPSRR wants transparency in river dredging, silt removal Badiuzzaman Badal said these in a press conference at the organisation's office at Sadarghat Terminal on April 8. Aminur Rasul Babul, member secretary of Safe Waterway Implementation Movement, said that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself is sincere in the development of inland shipping communication. The government is also giving adequate allocation in this sector. But due to the irregularities and corruption of BIWTA's dredging department, the desired success in rescuing the defunct waterways has not come even after 14 years. Mihir Biswas, joint secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said that BIWTA's responsibility is to maintain the navigability of waterways through regular dredging under its revenue fund. “The river dredging, including rescue of lost waterways and the expensive works of silt removal, are under its development fund. The organisation has been doing these two tasks for more than a century. For this, thousands of crores of public funds have been spent, but the expected success is not visible,” Mihir Biswas commented, also blaming irregularities, corruption and lack of accountability and transparency as responsible for this. Read More: River Police taking measures to ensure safety on waterways during Eid
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md. Shahab Uddin stressed the need for strengthening the transboundary collaboration with India for the conservation of tigers and leopards in Bangladesh as the two countries have shared tiger and leopard habitat. “Considering the conservation importance of seven big cat species on earth and two critically endangered big cat species in Bangladesh, we in principal support the creation of the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA) with a membership of the range of countries harboring these species,” he said. The minister said this at an event organized on the occasion of the International Conference on Tiger Conservation as part of 50 years of Project Tiger held on Sunday at Mysuru University in Mysuru, Karnataka, India after the inauguration of the event by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. Sahab Uddin said Bangladesh government is working with the determination to double the number of wild tigers by achieving zero poaching target with the active participation of local community. It’s a matter of hope that wild tiger numbers are starting to tick upward he said adding that government has taken several remarkable initiatives for conserving the national animal and other wild species. Shahab Uddin said Bangladesh government is implementing National Tiger Recovery Program (2022 to 2034) and second-generation Bangladesh Tiger Action Plan (2018-2027) which include tiger survey; genetic study; SMART patrolling and monitoring by drone inside the Sundarbans; capacity building programs for frontline staffs of the Forest Department as well as local community to ensure protection & conservation of the Sundarbans and Bengal tiger. The Minister said, a protocol was signed between Bangladesh and India for strengthening collaboration for the Conservation of Royal Bengal Tiger in the Sundarbans in 2011. The Minister said to mitigate tiger human conflicts, our government has engaged the local community in tiger conservation activities by forming Village Tiger Response Team, Co-management Committee and Community Petrol Group. Wildlife Victim Compensation Rules, 2021 has the provision to give compensation up toTk 3 lakh for person killed by tiger, he said. Wildlife Crime Control Unit has been established under Forest Department to combat illegal wildlife trade and to strengthen the capacity of wildlife education, research and training, Sheikh Kamal Wildlife Center has been established which is working as a center of excellence, said the minister. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi launched the International Big Cats Alliance (IBCA) which will focus on protection and conservation of seven major big cats of the world such as tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard, puma, jaguar, and cheetah in collaboration with the countries concerned. The Environment and Forest Ministers of the countries harboring these species were present on the occasion.