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Who is to blame for growing man-animal conflict in Kashmir?

Srinagar city has an entire range of Zabarwan hills those have been declared as protected areas for wildlife species.

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Zabarwan hills

As humankind continues to breach nature’s borders to encroach into the habitat of wildlife species, more and more incidents of man-animal conflict are occurring across the Kashmir Valley.

Just two days back, a leopard and a mother bear with cubs were rescued in time by the officials of the wildlife protection department from a heavily populated area of south Kashmir.

“After rescue, these animals were set free in the forest area so that they return to their natural territory”, said an official of the wildlife protection department.

Ironically, instead of helping the rescue effort, dozens of locals were seen clicking mobile phone pictures of these wild animals as they remained dazed after being surrounded by so many people.

Environmentalists say the problem is much bigger and of greater consequence than it appears to the common man.

“Fast growing human population has pushed the boundaries of the wild animals far deeper into the forests and other habitats of these species.

“Look at any forest area of the Valley and you will find that humans have done serious encroachments there. Felling forests for timber and fuel, or claiming forest land for cultivation is a common phenomenon in J&K.

“This forces the wildlife species to move down into populated areas for food and sometimes in sheer bewilderment and fear”, said a local environmentalist.

Another important reason for man-animal conflict is the increasing numbers of wildlife species because poaching and unauthorised killing of animals for fur etc has almost stopped due to the presence of the security forces in forest areas.

“Poachers hardly dare to venture into the forests. Security forces deployed on counter insurgency duties dominate forest areas to check infiltration of militants. This has discouraged poaching and hunting in these forests”, said a police officer.

Srinagar city has an entire range of Zabarwan hills those have been declared as protected areas for wildlife species.

Areas overlooking the Raj Bhawan, hotel Lalit, Hari Niwas guest house and even the entire high security Gupkar Road and the Boulevard are protected areas.

There are leopards, bears, jackals, partridges and dozens of other wildlife species in these areas.

In addition to this, Dachigam national park is situated barely 14 Kilometres from city centre Lal Chowk in Srinagar.

Dachigam is home to ‘Hangul’, a sub-species of red deer found only in Kashmir and nowhere else in the World.

As construction of houses etc continues in areas surrounding the Dachigam national park, this has caused stress on various species living inside the park.

A government sheep farm which existed inside the park for decades was re-located two years back to avoid competition between sheep and other grazers among the wildlife species.

“There are pastures those overlap into the Dachigam park and flocks of sheep, goats and cattle are taken up into these pastures by nomadic goatherds during the summer months.

“This is another grey area that needs immediate attention to ensure that the population of Hangul and other species remains unaffected”, said Bashir Ahmad, a veterinarian who headed the sheep farm inside the national park for three years in the past.

Thousands of migratory birds come each year to spend the winter months in bird reserves and other lakes and water bodies of the Valley.

Vast areas of these bird reserves like the Hokarsar, Mirgund, Hygam and Shallabugh have been encroached as houses and other structures including shops and godowns have come up in these areas.

This has shrunk the areas of these bird reserves forcing the migratory birds to inhabit unprotected water bodies where poachers kill these birds.

In a nutshell, the man-animal conflict in Kashmir is the handiwork of human beings whose greed for land and space has obliterated the fine ecological borderline because of which the two had peacefully coexisted for centuries.

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Research and development activity to get hit as WD benefit to cease from FY21

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

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Research and development activity

New Delhi, Feb 19 : India Inc’s R&D activity might get adversely impacted as weighted deduction (WD) benefits, including those on capital expenses, stand withdrawn from the next fiscal.

Till now, the Income Tax Act allowed for weighted deduction for all R&D activities.

However, four years back a sunset provision was introduced in the Budget on the availability of weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

This deadline was expected to have been extended in this year’s Budget. However, that did not happen.

“The weighted deduction was a key reason for entities to invest in R&D infra. This withdrawal will impact future investments in this area,” said Amarjeet Singh, Senior Partner, International Tax and Regulatory, KPMG in India.

According to experts, R&D activity is a key proponent of the ‘Make in India’ strategy and to further expand the manufacturing sector in the country.

Besides, R&D investments into India have grown with many MNCs establishing their research bases here.

“The ‘Make in India’ programme has got the booster of a reduced tax rate. Similarly, had the government continued with the weighted deduction for R&D, it would have surely ensured that India marched ahead both in manufacturing and in the corresponding R&D,” said Gukul Chaudhri, Partner, Deloitte India.

“So, while India may not lose its tag as the R&D lab of the world, the availability of weighted deduction would have ensured that India continued as one of the most attractive destinations for R&D in the world,” Chaudhri added.

The Finance Act, 2016, restricted the availability of expenditure incurred on scientific research to 150 per cent from April 1, 2017, and no weighted deduction from April 1, 2020.

“Globally, most countries are encouraging R&D activity as it generates new ‘intellectual property’ (IP), which in turn creates sustainable revenues. Such IP or new product gives rise to a new industry and other supporting activities,” said Samir Kanabar, Partner, Tax and Regulatory Services, Ernst & Young.

“In India, several sectors like auto, pharma etc. have invested substantially in R&D facilities to develop new IPs, patents and hence, a new tax regime to boost R&D was a major expectation,” Kanabar added.

However, Suman Chowdhury, President, Ratings, Acuite Ratings and Research, said that the reduction in weighted tax deduction will not have any significant effect on India Inc’s R&D activity.

“India’s R&D activity has held steady at 0.7 per cent of GDP over 5 years and no visible signs of positive outcomes were seen emanating from private enterprises despite such benefits,” Chowdhury said.

“Nevertheless, corporates now enjoy a reduced effective corporate tax structure, which should more than compensate for the loss, at least for the manufacturing sector. Service oriented enterprises, whose business model thrives on innovation, do not require incentives to do R&D in our opinion,” Chowdhury added.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])

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AGR risk for GAIL, OIL and Powergrid stays: Fitch

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New Delhi, Feb 19 : India’s telecom-related regulatory dispute still is event risk for GAIL, OIL and Powergrid, Fitch Ratings said on wednesday.

Fitch Ratings continues to treat any payments that three India-based companies – GAIL (India) Limited (BBB-/Stable), Oil India Limited (BBB-/Stable) and Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd (BBB-/Stable) – may have to make under a demand notice from the Department of Telecom as an event risk for the companies’ ratings.

Fitch is not taking immediate rating action on the three companies, as the Supreme Court of India allowed the companies to withdraw their clarification applications on February 14, 2020, and resolve their dispute with Department of Telecom outside the court.

This is in stark contrast to the court’s decision to demand immediate payments from the telecom companies that are also involved in the dispute, Fitch added.

“We expect the three companies to eventually resolve the dispute, although resolution timing is uncertain. A speedy solution is important to prevent disrupting the companies’ investment plans and damaging their performance. The three companies are considering an appeal against the demand notices. We understand that they have the option to resolve the matter through alternate dispute-resolution mechanisms available to state-owned enterprises. This is in addition to the legal options available to telecom license holders in general,” it said.

The Department of Telecom has issued demand notices to GAIL, OIL and POWERGRID for Rs 1,831 billion, Rs 480 billion and Rs 220 billion, respectively.

The notices include license fees on non-telecom revenue and additional interest and penalties on the license fees. However, the three companies’ telecom-related revenue is insignificant, at around Rs 0.5 billion, Rs 0.01 billion and Rs 23 billion, respectively, for the same time period as the demand notices.

The three companies have created telecom infrastructure for internal use and have obtained national long distance and Internet service provider licenses to rent out spare capacity. They maintain that their licenses differ from the unified access licenses held by telecom companies, hence, the court’s decision on adjusted gross revenue for telecom companies does not apply to them.

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Kanpur tanneries asked to shut down again

Aftab Alam, a leather exporter, said the closure order would not only damage the business image of tanneries but would affect leather export too.

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UP tanneries Business

Kanpur, Feb 17 : The Regional Pollution Control Board of Uttar Pradesh has ordered 248 tanneries in Jajmau area of Kanpur to stop their operations from February 19 till further orders, without assigning any reason.

The tanneries, which remained closed for a period of 13 months on the charge of polluting Ganga, were allowed to start production on December 20 for two months only.

S.B. Franklin, regional pollution control board officer, said the time limit of two months is expiring on February 19.

Feroz Alam of Small Tanners’ Association said that on December 20 last year, the government, while granting permission to run the units with half capacity, had also stated that the tanners would be allowed to run their units till next year if they followed the necessary norms and standards fixed by the pollution control board.

He said, “During the last two months, not a single notice was issued to any tannery by the regional pollution control board because the tanneries did not flout the norms set by it.”

He said that the UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) had not given any reason for the closure order now.

Aftab Alam, a leather exporter, said the closure order would not only damage the business image of tanneries but would affect leather export too.

He said the tanneries which have got orders from foreign companies would suffer if they failed to supply the goods in time.

The tanners would also face problems in getting new orders in future, he added.

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