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LONDON: India has demanded an apology from the BBC over its presenter Jeremy Clarkson mocking Indian culture during a Christmas special programme while driving around the country, calling it a "breach" of agreement.

Clarkson, one of the highest paid BBC presenters known for his controversial comments, presented the Top Gear programme, which since its broadcast prompted several complaints and allegations of racism.

In its January 6 letter to the programme’s producer, Chris Hale, and copied to Mark Thompson, director-general of BBC, the high commission said the BBC was "clearly in breach of the agreement that you had entered into, completely negating our constructive and proactive facilitation".

The letter added: "The programme was replete with cheap jibes, tasteless humour and lacked cultural sensitivity. This is not clearly what we expect of the BBC. I write this to convey our deep disappointment over the documentary for its content and the tone of the presentation".

In the programme, Clarkson allegedly made controversial comments about India’s trains, toilets, clothing, food and history.

The BBC has confirmed receiving 23 complaints about the programme, and added that it would directly respond to the Indian high commission’s letter.

Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who called for a BBC apology when the programme was broadcast over Christmas, told The Telegraph last night: "It seems that the reasons given by the BBC in order to obtain their visas to go to India did not disclose the true nature of the content of this programme."

"One ridiculous programme has done a lot of damage to this good relationship. A swift apology from the BBC and Mr Clarkson may go some way towards restoring our good relations and the reputation of the BBC in India," Vaz added.

Before leaving for India, Hale had informed the high commission in a letter dated 21 July that the trip was intended to be "light hearted... focusing on the journey and the inevitable idiosyncracies of the cars they will drive, as well as the country and the scenery we see along the way".

Clarkson was accompanied by two presenters, Richard Hammond and James May.

Hale’s letter added: "There will be spontaneous interaction between the presenters and their environment, and potentially people they meet along the way. This will be in an incidental manner, not interviews. Key ingredients of what we film will be beautiful scenery, busy city scenes, local charm and colour within these locations, areas to illustrate the local car culture that exists in India."

 

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COIMBATORE: In an initiative aimed at protecting the caged wildlife, a complex surgery was conducted on a five-foot long cobra at the Coimbatore Zoo on Friday morning. A tumor, weighing 100 gram, was removed from the cobra’s body.

Dr K Asokan, director of Coimbatore Zoo conducted the rare surgery. Speaking to TOI, Dr Asokan said during routine examination of animals and reptiles at the zoo a few days back, he found that one of the four cobras had two tumors with multiple tumor growth. He soon decided to operate on the reptile. The removed tumor has been sent for biopsy test. Based on the test report, Dr Asokan would decide whether to remove the other tumor or not.

Dr Asokan was assisted in the surgery by snake specialist Sadik Ali and RM Saleem of environment conservation group.

"Surgery is just the first step. Based on the biopsy report, we will administer medicines to the cobra to prevent the tumor growth. The surgery has ensured its healthy living apart from ensuring its life span,’’ added Dr Asokan.

"Animals and reptiles in zoos deserve better veterinary care. Whenever there is an emergency, we provide the best treatment possible to the animals and reptiles in the zoo,’’ said Asok.

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KOLKATA: The first ever crocodile census was kicked off in the Sunderbans on Sunday. The exercise to be conducted in the daylight, will help track the behavioural pattern of the apex predators of the aquatic system. A fund of Rs 10 lakh has been sanctioned.

It may be noted that there were reports of human-estuarine crocodile conflicts in Sunderbans in recent times especially from Sajnekhali and Kultoli areas.

Some predators were also spotted in the rivers inside the villages. The data will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officials, who will compile it and give the final estimation within three months.

Thirty-one teams - 21 under Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) and 10 under South 24-Parganas forest division - would take part in the estimation procedure, said a forest department official.

"We have distributed 31 kits, containing thermometers and GPS, among the teams. While thermometers will be used to measure the temperature of the water, GPS will help in reading location.

Each team comprises two foresters and an NGO member," said the official.

The teams have already left for their respective areas. Of the 1000 sq km to be covered under the four-day exercise, the prime areas will be Sajnekhali, National Park east and west. While two teams have been sent for Sajnekhali, eight teams will look after National Park east and west. Over 200 forest department staff will participate in the process.

"Sighting of others mammals, quality of vegetation and mud flats too will be recorded. The team members will also draw water samples to gauge the level of salinity in the mangroves," said Pradeep Vyas, the director of Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve. He also added that there will be no tourism and fishing activities in these four days. According to him, six supervisors have been deployed to oversee the functioning of the 31 teams. "Since most of the staff will be busy in the crocodile census, we have formed three special teams - to be stationed in Bakhna and Sajnekhali - to keep an eye on the tiger-straying incidents," Vyas added.

Chief wildlife warden SB Mondal and Sunderbans Tiger Reserve field director Subrat Mukherji were among other senior forest officials who were present on the spot on Sunday.

NGOs participating in the exercise are WWF, WPSI, NEWS, SHER and WII among others. Experts from International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will also supervise the process.

The exercise, to be conducted in the daylight, will help track the behavioural pattern of the apex predators of the aquatic system. It may be noted that there were reports of human-estuarine crocodile conflicts in Sunderbans in recent times, especially from Sajnekhali and Kultoli areas. Some predators were also spotted in the rivers inside the villages.

A fund of approximately Rs 10 lakh have been sanctioned. The data will be sent to Wildlife Institute of India (WII) officials, who will compile it and give the final estimation within three months.

 

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