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Adverse weather conditions may hit mango crops in UP: Experts

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Lucknow, April 25 (IANS) Battling the impact of climate change, the mango yield in northern India, including Uttar Pradesh (UP), may be hit by the earlier-than-usual summer this year, said experts at Lucknow’s ICAR-Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH).

The mango belt is known for its prized Chausa, Dussehri and Langra varieties globally and the northern belt accounts for 40 per cent of the total mango production in India.

Of 21 million metric tonnes (MT), 4.8 MT comes from UP alone, said T Damodaran, the institute’s Director.

Temperature has seen a significant rise and the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is predicting a further rise in the mercury in days to come.

With the mercury expected to go up to 43 degrees Celsius soon, it may not be ideal for mango flowering, said experts at the institute.

Unlike the previous year, when mango produce was affected due to untimely hailstorm, thunderstorm and semi looper insects, mango flowering this year is good due to warm weather. But fruit produce may again suffer due to extreme climatic conditions expected in coming days, the scientists said.

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“Looking at the intense heatwave forecast over the next 30 days, where the temperature is expected to go up to 43 degrees Celsius soon, policymakers and mango lovers have started having doubts about the fate of the mango crop for the current season,” said the scientists.

Damodaran said high temperature during fruit formation is usually expected to favour the crop, however, sudden temperature rise may result in a higher fruit fall, if it is not managed with light to moderate frequent irrigation to keep the crop moist.

Mango crops are often considered the most vulnerable to climatic changes during flowering-fruiting period. The most crucial period for the crop falls in March-April when night temperatures start rising above 15 degrees Celsius, which decides the flowering and fruiting of mango crop, he explained.

“The current season witnessed delayed flowering as night temperatures in most of the northern region remained low during February and March. However, as the temperature started rising gradually, flowering was initiated and due to the gradual rise in day and night temperatures, the weather of March and early April did not affect the flowering, pollination and fruit set,” said the Director.

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The president of the All India Mango Growers’ Association, Insram Ali, said extreme temperatures during the flowering season (March-April) damage flowers as they are not able to bear the heat. Even low temperatures are bad for the flowers.

“Mango flowers do not grow in such hot weather conditions. Right now, they are pea-sized and some are as small as mustard seeds. They need to be at least 3-4 inches in size,” he said.

The Mal-Malihabad region, which is the leading producer of mangoes in northern India and UP, and is especially known for the popular variety Dussehri, has had low flowering this year, at only 30-35 per cent, he stated.

In previous years also, 25-30 per cent of the mango produced was lost and damaged due to unprecedented weather.

According to ICAR-CISH, Lucknow, the mango production in Mal-Malihabad bordering the Sitapur area was affected by 35 per cent and 20-25 per cent in other districts of UP due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm in March and April.

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“For the last few years, climate change has affected mango production. Extreme heat conditions were seen a few years back, and at that time also, farmers reported major loss,” said Insram Ali suggesting that there should be some insurance for mangoes as well as other crops so that farmers can bear the loss due to natural reasons.

Growers are advised to go for bagging of fruits to protect them against excess transpiration loss during the heatwave, along with mulching that could create a favourable microclimate for fruit set.

–IANS

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Man held in Assam with drone parts intended for supply to Manipur militants

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Guwahati/Imphal, June 17 (IANS) The Assam Police’s Special Task Force (STF) has arrested a man with drone parts, which were allegedly intended for supply to militant outfits of Manipur, officials said on Sunday.

An Assam Police spokesman said that STF personnel arrested one Sanjib Kumar Mishra, a resident of Guwahati’s Noonmati area, with drone parts from Rupnagar area of the city on Saturday night.

“After a prolonged operation the items were being seized as the person arrested was trying to transport it to some militant groups based in Manipur. The operation is seen as a huge success in terms of thwarting a major sabotage activity in violence engulfed Manipur,” an official statement said.

On Friday, the STF arrested a Manipuri youth and recovered flight batteries suspected to be used in drones, cash, and other items.

According to STF, Khaigoulen Kipgen (27), a resident of Gamngai village in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district, was arrested from Sonapur toll gate in Guwahati.

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Ten TB30 intelligent flight batteries suspected to be used in drones, cash amounting to Rs 3.40 lakh, and a mobile handset were recovered from the vehicle, in which Kipgen along with two minors was travelling.

“The intelligence suggested that a Manipur-based banned organisation was attempting to procure equipment potentially for sabotage activities,” STF sources had said.

–IANS

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Ending 'VIP culture', Assam CM to pay own electricity bills

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Guwahati, June 17 (IANS) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday announced that the state government has decided to end the ‘VIP culture’ rule in paying power bills of senior government officials including the ministers.

CM Sarma said that from July 1, he will also pay the electricity bills of his residence.

“In the last 75 years after India got Independence, no Chief Minister in Assam had paid power bills on their own and the state government took the burden of paying it. Even though I was also enjoying free electricity for the last three years and I was unaware of the fact,” he said.

Sarma said that soon after came to know that from a particular fund of the state government, the bills were paid, he issued an order to install electricity meters in the Chief Minister’s residence.

He mentioned that all the ministers in the state will pay their own power bills starting July 1.

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The senior government officials including those working in the state secretariat will have to pay bills for their own electricity consumption.

“We have already informed the senior state government officials about not getting free electricity anymore if they are staying at the quarters,” the Chief Minister added.

He asserted that this decision will ease the burden of the state government and the power department will not have to hike the electricity tariffs.

Sarma said that to set an example, he and the Chief Secretary of the state will start paying their electricity bills from July 1 onwards.

Taking to his X handle, the Chief Minister wrote: “We are ending the #VIPCulture rule of paying electricity bills of Government officials using taxpayer money.

“Myself and the Chief Secretary will set an example and start paying our power bills from July 1 onwards. Beginning July 2024, all public servants will have to pay for their own electricity consumption,” he added.

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–IANS

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Online helicopter service booking begins for Amarnath Yatra

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Srinagar, June 17 (IANS) Online booking of helicopter service for this year’s Amarnath Yatra began on Sunday. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has started the facility for both Baltal and Pahalgam yatra routes for this year’s 52-day long Shri Amarnath Yatra starting on June 29.

A statement by SASB said on Sunday that the annual pilgrimage of Amarnath is starting on June 29 and will conclude on August 19 on the day of Raksha Bandhan coinciding with Shravan Purnima festival.

Officials said that for the north Kashmir Baltal route, helicopter service is being provided on Neelgrath- Panjtarni-Neelgrath, and for Pahalgam route, it will be available on Pahalgam-Panjtarni-Pahalgam route.

However, officials added that online booking of the helicopter service can be availed by visiting the official website JKSASB.nic.in

“Offline tickets or priority will not be available, hence the booking will be on a first come first serve basis and will be provided directly to the devotees,” an official said, adding that one way fare from Pahalgam to Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs 4,900; two-way fare at Rs 9,800; one way fare from Neelgrath to Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs 3,250 and both way fare at Rs 6,500.

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Pilgrims undertaking the yatra must have a health certificate while booking the helicopter tickets.

Journey from Panjtarni helipad to the holy cave and back takes time, so the available slots for the pilgrims will be visible with a gap of at least 5 to 6 hours between the trips.

“The traveller must carry original photo identity card and a health certificate during the journey while the pilgrims must reach the respective helipads at least 30 minutes before the booked time slot.

“Charter booking is only allowed for travel between Srinagar and Neelgrath with priority seats on the connecting service running between Neelgrath and Panjtarni,” a statement noted.

“The preparations for the pilgrimage are in full swing. The advance registration for pilgrims has already started from April 15. This year, 125 langars have been permitted to be installed up to the holy cave,” an official said.

J&K Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha, on May 16, during his visit to Katra, urged devotees to become messengers and spread the message of Lord Shiva.

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–IANS

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Assam Police foil drug peddling attempt; 3 arrested

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Guwahati, June 16 (IANS) Assam Police have foiled an inter-state drug peddling attempt and arrested three narcotics peddlers including one resident of violence-hit Manipur on Sunday, officials said.

According to the police, the consignment of drugs was coming from Manipur and the peddlers were trying to deliver it somewhere in Goalpara district in Assam. However, the police foiled that attempt and seized contraband items.

An official said that the Special Task Force (STF) of Assam Police received prior information about the movement of narcotics in two vehicles.

“We received information that a notorious drug peddler, namely, Nasiruddin a.k.a. Nasir Bhai of Goalpara district and his associates in two vehicles would receive a narcotics consignment bound from Sora in Manipur to Goalpara which would be carried by a Manipuri carrier, namely Salim. He is a resident of Sora in the neighbouring state of Manipur,” he added.

The police said that a vehicle was intercepted in front of Boko Police Station in the Kamrup district and recovered at least 30 packets of heroin kept in a bag.

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“The total weight of the seized narcotics substances was 420 grams. Three occupants of the vehicle, Nasir Bhai, Atikur and the Manipuri carrier Salim were apprehended,” a police officer said.

However, a second escorting vehicle which was looking out for police checks escaped.

The house of the driver, Shohidul Islam of Matia area was searched, but he escaped, leaving behind the vehicle and his family members resisted and facilitated his escape, according to a statement by the police.

Necessary legal actions in the matter were initiated, police mentioned.

Meanwhile, in a joint operation of Border Security Force (BSF) and Assam Police, at least 30,000 Yaba tablets were seized in Karimganj district on Sunday.

The BSF said that the market value of the seized contraband items must be around Rs 3 crore.

Two drug peddlers identified as Atikul Rehman and Saharul Islam were arrested. Both of them are residents of Karimganj district.

–IANS

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Haryana to soon start recruitment of 'Van Mitras'

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Chandigarh, June 16 (IANS) Haryana Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini on Sunday announced that recruitment of ‘Van Mitras’, who will be given an honorarium to take care of newly planted tree saplings, under the ‘Van Mitra’ Scheme will begin soon.

Presiding over a review meeting of the Forest and Wildlife Department, he also warned that if there is a delay in extinguishing the fire in forests, “accountability will be fixed from forest guards to senior officers”.

He directed the officers to ensure arrangements for supplying water from canals or tube-wells to national parks like Kalesar, Sultanpur and other dense forests so that this water can be used by wildlife during extreme heat and to aid in extinguishing fires.

The CM directed the officers to regularly map existing plants and those planted annually under the plantation campaign using drones.

He reviewed in detail the annual plantation drive conducted by the Forest Department and directed that these plants be geo-tagged and their growth should be monitored for five years with the help of drones.

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The Chief Minister was informed that a budget of Rs 150 crore has been allocated for the plantation drive for 2024-25, while Rs 10 crore will be spent on herbal parks.

He also said illegal cutting of trees from the forest areas will not be tolerated, and if any employee is found to be complicit, action will be taken against them.

He also released a brochure for the ‘Pran Vayu Devta’ scheme. The Chief Minister was also informed that under the scheme, the state government plans to provide an annual pension of Rs 2,750 to those who take care of trees over 75 years old. So far, 3,819 such trees have been identified under the scheme.

–IANS

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