ReutersIn 2018, the entire state of Kerala was in a state of panic as the Nipah virus claimed the lives of 17 people. And now, on June 03, 2019, health authorities in Kerala have hinted at a possible Nipah outbreak. As per reports, authorities have sent the blood sample of the suspected patient to the Pune virology institute, and the entire state is waiting to know whether the dreaded virus has made its way to Kerala. K K Shailaja, Kerala health minister, revealed that the suspected patient has shown signs of Nipah. However, she made it clear that the confirmation will be made only after the blood test. Shailaja also urged people to stay calm and revealed that the state is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of citizens.”It is not yet confirmed. But, the suspect patient has shown signs of Nipah. If anyone starts suffering from fever and severe cough, do not try to hide it, you should immediately seek medical advice. We have experience in handling emergency situations. Last year, we had a tough time, but this year, we will ensure that no one will die due to this virus,” said Shailaja. The District Medical Officer urged people not to panic and added that everything is under control now. The DMO also revealed that the place of origin of the current Nipah outbreak was not Ernakulam district.As a precautionary measure, the health ministry has ordered to open five isolation wards in Kalamassery Medical College, Cochin. The health ministry has also apparently asked health professionals in both government and private sectors to stay alert.As per the latest updates, a team of doctors and nurses who handled last year’s Nipah outbreak has already started their journey to Cochin. This team led by Dr. Chandini will work with experts in Cochin to formulate an effective treatment plan.
Establishment of industries and heavy infrastructure are prohibited near 10 km of Sundarbans. Mahbubul Alam Hanif`s shrimp enclosure is in the area.Ruling Bangladesh Awami League (AL) joint general secretary Mahbubul Alam Hanif has set up a shrimp farm close to the Sundarbans, violating the environment law.Hanif established the shrimp farm on 35 acres of land at Sutarkhali union of Dacope in Khulna although the law prohibits commercial activities and establishments within 10 kilometers of the Sundarbans, the UNESCO-recognised world heritage site.The farm started commercially last year.He also built two-storey and one-storey buildings there.As per the environment conservation act, environment impact assessment and environment clearance certificates have been made mandatory for shrimp farms.There had been a pond and a Kali temple within the boundaries of the farm. The pond has been filled up.A channel was dug in an embankment to bring in saline water for the shrimp farm from the river Poshur of the Sundarbans.Quest Aquaculture & Fish Processing Limited and Bangladesh Bank and Investment Corporation of Bangladesh (ICB) jointly set up the farm, according to a sign board at main gate of the farm.Two state organisations equally invested in the project.BB and ICB officials said the funds were allocated but not disbursed as yet.Speaking to Prothom Alo, director of department of environment of Khulna Habibul Haque Khan said the environment clearance certificate is mandatory for shrimp enclosures on over five acres of land.The official said the Quest Aquaculture & Fish Processing Limited has not applied for the certificate.Mahbubul Alam Hanif told Prothom Alo, “I did not know the environment clearance certificate is required to set up shrimp enclosures.”Those engaged in the management of the farm would not know it, he said”I have asked them to apply for the environment clearance certificate”.About filling up the pond, Hanif said the water of the pond was not safe. A water treatment plant is being set up there to supply safe water to the villagers, he added.About the Kali temple, Hanif said a temple is being built outside the shrimp farm.As per section 5 of the Environment Conservation Act, 1999, the government declared 10 kilometers around Sundarbans an ecologically critical area (ECA).On 18 January 2015, the government issued a gazette notification, demarcating the ECA of Sundarbans. Hanif’s farm is located within the ECA.Following the directives of the prime minister office on August of 2016, a list of 34 industries and establishments in the ECA was drawn up. Mahbubul Alam’s farm was dropped from the list.During a visit in June, it was found that an eight foot boundary wall and barbed wire fence was put up around the farm. A high-powered generator has been set up there for uninterrupted supply of electricity to the farm. The generator was creating loud noise in the area, the residents said.A poster pasted on the wall near the main gate of the farm welcomes residents of Dacope on behalf of Hanif and Khulna district vice president of Sramik League Farid Ahmed.Farid Ahmed was staying at the farm. He told Prothom Alo that he looked after the farm. He also said the environment clearance certificate was not required to establish shrimp farms.Eminent wildlife conservationist Mohammad Ali Reza Khan said, “We will lose the Sundarbans fast if we establish different types of industries and shrimp enclosures there.”“How will the Sundarbans survive if lawmakers violate laws?” he asked.*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam