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‘Eco-passages’ and other lessons on curbing roadkill

An estimated 10,000 wild animals — representing more than 100 species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds — were crushed to death annually on a 3.6 km, two-lane road that passes through a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in Canada.

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New Delhi, May 27: An estimated 10,000 wild animals — representing more than 100 species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals and birds — were crushed to death annually on a 3.6 km, two-lane road that passes through a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in Canada.

Not any more.

With $2.7 million in government and private funding, a 10-year community-led project on Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario has used special fencing, “eco passages” and public awareness campaigns to dramatically reduce “fatal interactions” between vehicles and wildlife.

The project holds lessons for India where roadkill mortality of wild animals, especially tigers and elephants, is common.

As recently as last month, 31 wild vultures feeding on a cow on a rail track in Jorbeer — the largest vulture site in Asia that falls on the migratory route of raptors from Eurasia and Mongolia — in Rajasthan’s Bikaner district, were killed when a train mowed them down.

A paper of the Canadian success story, “Mitigating Reptile Road Mortality”, published on Friday in the journal Wildlife Society Bulletin, estimates that 89 percent fewer turtles and 28 percent fewer snakes now venture onto the road.

The road, or causeway, separates Long Point Bay and the marshy wetlands of Big Creek National Wildlife Area, all part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

While amphibians were by far the most common casualties, the biggest concern was the number of dead reptiles, particularly at-risk and endangered species such as Blanding’s turtles, snapping turtles, Eastern foxsnakes and others.

“With most of the causeway now fully fenced, the average number of turtles venturing onto the road has dropped by 89 percent and snake numbers are down 28 percent,” Chantel Markle, a McMaster University biologist who led a research project, said.

Markle and her co-investigators also studied wildlife activity in several aquatic and terrestrial culverts — special tunnels of different sizes and materials constructed under the causeway to allow the natural movement of turtles, snakes and other animals.

This project can be replicated in other areas that report roadkill.

Co-investigator Scott Gilling water, a species-at-risk biologist with the Upper Thames Valley Conservation Authority, said: “The success story documented in our study is very important because it offers a model that can be used and adapted in other areas where road mortality threatens important wetlands biodiversity.”

In 2003, the recurring annual carnage earned the Long Point Causeway the dubious distinction of fourth-place ranking on a list of the world’s top turtle road mortality sites (after two sites in Florida and one in Montana).

Built in the 1920s to create land access to the beaches on Long Point, the causeway has presented a near century-old hazard for turtles needing a place to lay eggs, to reach summer habitat and to find winter hibernation sites.

Often female turtles, which only reach reproductive age in their teens, use the gravel shoulders for nesting, making them and their hatchlings especially susceptible to cars.

The paper says the construction of exclusion fencing began in 2008 and, two years later, most of the causeway was fenced, despite daunting challenges presented by the marsh and lake shore conditions.

Soon, overall reptile road kill numbers had fallen by half and by 60 per cent for important species-at-risk reptiles.

Quoting insurance industry statistics the paper says in the US alone drivers report hitting one million to two million animals every year — figures that don’t include millions of unreported collisions with smaller animals like turtles, raccoons or squirrels.

IANS

By Vishal Gulati 

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])

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Women, Sabarimala temple and right to equality

The Sabarimala issue is not just about entry right to the women but now has become Religion Vs Fundamental Rights. In India, there are numbers of such issues which are still keeping the females deprived of rights.

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Ages back the women folks were exploited and the same is happening in modern times. Hinduism abolished Sati — a female was forced to be burnt alive in the pyre of her husband. Raja Ram Mohan Roy started a campaign against it and it came to an end. But has this changed brought much change in the lives of the women folk in the present times!

Sabarimala temple is Ayyappa temple situated in the Sabarimal region in Kerala. Here the females of age 10 to 50 are not allowed to enter due to the menstruation problem. There has been a lot of hues and cry over this issue.

Legal battle:

In 1991, this boycott to temple section for ladies was tested under the steady gaze of the Kerala High Court in S. Mahendran Vs The Secretary, Travancore case. Kerala High court decided for the preclusion of ladies entering the temple and asserted that these confinements have existed since time immemorial and not unfair to the Constitution. This request of the High Court was executed and pursued for the following 15 years. In 2006, the boycott was tested by the Public Interest Litigation recorded by the Young Lawyers Association with the Supreme Court, asserting that rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu places of Public worship (Authorisation of entry) Rules 1965 that states, “women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship” is infringement of established standards of equality, non-discrimination and religious opportunity. On April 25, 2016, the representative lawyer of the Devaswom, K.K Venugopal stated: “There is a sensible grouping by which certain classes of women are excluded”. Supreme Court was concerned regarding the statement if menstruation was associated with purity of women. The case was then assigned to the Constitution Bench by the Supreme Court.

In 2018, Justice Dipak Misra, The Chief Justice of India, while addressing to the PIL, put a query to the temple’s management over denying passage to women. The case was heard by a constitution bench headed by Justice Misra alongside Justices Rohinton Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra. The court held that Sabarimala pilgrims couldn’t be a different group or religious division. The traditions are subjected to sacred legitimacy and preclusion of ladies passage to temple infringing upon the Fundamental Rights. Justice Chandrachud claimed, “Your entitlement to implore as a lady isn’t subject to any law, it is a constitutional right”. He additionally included that notice issued under the standards recommending the age restrictions on ladies entry as “discretionary on its essence”.

In the year 2012, a similar campaign like that of Sabarimala temple was launched by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) & Bhumata Brigade to offer prayers at the Haji Ali Dargah. It is the resting place of Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari on the islet of Mumbai coast. This shrine is 585 years old. The Haji Ali Dargah is administered by the Haji Ali Dargah Trust a public charitable trust enrolled under the Maharashtra Public Trust Act. The trustees of the Dargah had chosen to deny ladies access to the grave area in 2011, calling the un-Islamic. It had expressed that it was redressing it’s earlier misstep of enabling ladies to touch the actual grave. The argument by the petitioner was that the Muslims deprive their women to equal rights, they keep them suppressed and the women folks don’t have a right to raise their voice in Islam.

On 26 August 2016, Bombay High Court decided that women to be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. Even the Supreme Court sealed the verdict of Bombay High Court and the women were allowed to enter the shrine sacred area on 29 November 2016. This was welcomed by all the people across India. It was stated that now the Muslim women have got their rights which were deprived of them since the advent of Islam.

Similarly, the Supreme Court has ordered that the women should be allowed in the Sabarimala temple and the old practice should be done away with.

In the case of Sabarimala temple, various Hindu groups are not accepting the decision of the Supreme Court and want a revision of the judgment. The present day’s ruling party Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is backing the agitation against the judgment.

Are the women not suppressed now by going against their right to enter the temple? It is not an insult to the highest court of law in India? The law of the land is above the ruling class or any religion but the BJP and other Hindu organizations are adamant for rather they are trying to show strength through mass gathering against the judgment.

Is this the respect to the law of the land?

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BJP Minister caught urinating in public near campaign poster, Calls it ‘Old-age Tradition’

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Ajmer, Oct 8: A picture of Bhartiya Janata Party minister urinating near a wall, next to a campaign poster featuring chief minister Vasundhara Raje is making rounds on social media.

The minister, Shambhu Singh Khatesar, justified himself by saying that urinating publicly was “an age-old tradition” and he had done nothing wrong.

Speaking to media Khatesar said, “There was a wall and some posters stuck at some distance on it. I hadn’t paid attention. It isn’t right to urinate in open but it’s a natural call. Urinating in a crowded area, is wrong”.

On the Narendra Modi government cleanness drive the minister stated “As far as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is concerned, urination alone doesn’t contribute to uncleanliness. That place did not have urinals for kilometers at a stretch”.

WeForNews 

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IMD issues cyclone alert for Odisha

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Bhubneshwar, Oct 8:  The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday said a depression over the Bay of Bengal is likely to concentrate into a cyclonic storm during the next 48 hours.

Under its impact, several parts of Odisha will receive heavy rainfall starting from October 9.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into deep sea areas of the Bay of Bengal from October 9 to 12 as the sea condition would be rough.

While rainfall at many places with heavy downpour at isolated places over south coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Tuesday, heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places over coastal Odisha is likely to occur on Wednesday.

It further predicted rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy downpours at a few places and extremely heavy downpour at isolated places over coastal and adjoining interior Odisha on Thursday.

The IMD said squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph are very likely along and off north Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal coasts from October 9.

It is very likely to increase gradually, reaching 70-80 kmph to 90 kmph from October 10 evening onwards along and off south Odisha and adjoining districts of north Andhra Pradesh coasts, said H.R. Biswas, Bhubaneswar Met centre Director.

IANS

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