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India, Maldives sign six key agreements

Bilateral ties are older than history, says Modi

First stop: Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received at the Male airport on Saturday. PTIPTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Maldives on Saturday, his first state visit abroad since being re-elected to office, was marked by the signing of six key agreements and substantive bilateral level talks, reaffirming cooperation between the two countries.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih conferred upon Mr. Modi the Maldives’ highest honour — the Rule of Nishan Izzuddeen.

Addressing the Maldivian parliament, the Majlis, Mr. Modi said the relations between India and the Maldives are older than history. “Today I want to emphasise that every Indian is with you for the strengthening of democracy in the Maldives,” he said.

‘A threat to civilisation’

Stressing the need for global cooperation in combating terror, he said terrorism is not just a threat to a country but to the entire civilisation. “It is very unfortunate that people are still making the mistake of distinguishing between good terrorists and bad terrorists,” he said.

“State sponsorship of terrorism is the biggest threat the world is facing today,” Mr. Modi said, adding, “Combating terrorism and radicalization is the most accurate test of the leadership in the world.”

The Memoranda of Understanding covered areas such as hydrography, health, passenger and cargo services by sea, capacity-building in customs and civil service training.

Monsoon finally arrives in Kerala

It is a week later than the normal onset date of June 1; criteria met, says IMD

Rain fury: The remnants of a house that came down in the first monsoon rain at Valiyathura in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday. S. GOPAKUMARThe Hindu

The monsoon has arrived in Kerala, a week later than its normal onset date of June 1.

“There has been good pre-monsoon rainfall over the last 48 hours, and other criteria are met. So we are declaring onset today,” M. Mohapatra, senior forecaster at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), told The Hindu. “Good rains are expected in the next 48 hours.”

Mr. Mohapatra, however, also cautioned that a developing cyclonic storm system in the Arabian Sea could potentially hamper the monsoon’s normal progress along India’s western coast. “If this system moves north-north westwards, it could help the monsoon’s ascent. But if it moves towards the Oman coast, it could temporarily obstruct the monsoon,” he added.

A low pressure area is likely to form along the Kerala-Karnataka coasts in the south-east and east-central Arabian Sea by Monday, the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) said on Saturday, quoting an IMD advisory. The SEOC has warned fishermen not to venture into the sea till Wednesday, as squally weather is expected in the southwest Arabian Sea and along Kanyakumari, the Gulf of Mannar, and the Maldives region.

Golden langur to get fruits of MGNREGA

₹27.24 lakh project to plant trees in Assam forest to help the endangered primate

A richer habitat: A baby golden langur with its mother in Guwahati zoo.APAP

For the first time since it became law in 2005, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) will have non-human beneficiaries — the rare golden langur (Trachypithecus geei) in a reserve forest in western Assam’s Bongaigaon district.

On June 5, the district authorities launched a ₹27.24-lakh project under the MGNREGA to plant guava, mango, blackberry and other fruit trees to ensure that the resident golden langurs of the 17 sq.km. Kakoijana Reserve Forest do not have to risk their lives to find food. Several golden langurs have died due to electrocution and in road accidents while looking for food beyond the reserve forests.

Community-based plan

Community-based conservation by local NGOs involving 34 villages around the reserve helped the low golden langur population in Kakoijana rise to 500 by 2015. But scarce food saw some of them set up colonies in forest patches such as Malegarh, Nigamghola and Bhumeshwar nearby.

“This is the first time MGNREGA is being used with a focus on food for a primate species. The project entails planting 10,575 saplings and seedlings of fruit-bearing trees,” Adil Khan, Deputy Commissioner, told The Hindu from Bongaigaon.The Assam Forest Department and local communities will maintain the saplings.

Wildlife activists have lauded the Bongaigaon administration’s step, but said the effort can be sustained only if Kakoijana is declared a wildlife sanctuary.

“Kakoijana was once contiguous with the Chakrashila Wildlife Sanctuary, about 40 km away and straddling adjoining Dhubri and Kokrajhar districts. The joint forest management approach for Kakoijana, enabling people to interfere, is not a long-term solution,” said Soumyadeep Dutta of the green group Nature’s Beckon.

“The scattering of golden langurs in small groups is not a good sign. The primate needs to be concentrated in viable areas such as Kakoijana,” Mr. Dutta said.

Officials said there are about 1,400 golden langurs, currently classified as endangered, in India.

India asks Pak. to exempt PM’s flight

India has requested Pakistan that Prime Minister Narendra Modi be allowed to fly through its airspace to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Bishkek, scheduled for June 13 and 14, despite the restrictions it had imposed on flights from and through the country.

The two countries had made an exemption for each other’s Foreign Ministers last month.

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