Chittagong Hill Tracts: Hill Cutting Continues Unabated
Below is an article published by The Daily Star:
Political leaders, influential people and unscrupulous businessmen are involved in razing the hills.
Some one lakh people are exposed to hill slides in the three districts due to construction of houses and commercial establishments through leveling hills in most unplanned way.
Plundering of hills has also posed a serious threat to other residential houses, environment and biodiversity, local residents and environmentalist said.
At least 25 people were killed and one hundred houses collapsed due to hillslides in the CHT, district administration sources said.
Convener of Khagrachhari district Paribesh Surakkha Andolon Pradip Chowdhury said around five acres of hill have been levelled under the nose of administration recently by the influential businessmen in Kathalbagan (Mistripara) area under Matiranga upazila as the officials mysteriously remain silent.
Abu Taher Muhammad, an environment activist in Khagrachhari town, said hill cutting is going on in all most all upazilas of Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban.
Many government establishments are also dangerously exposed to landslides during rainy season due to hill cutting, he alleged.
Abu Daud Muhammad, network member of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), Khagrachhari said illegal hill cutting has been going on contributing to natural degradation, filling up of river and canals, exposing lives and properties to landslides and flash flood in the CHT.
Fazle-Elahi, president of NGO Global Village in Rangamati, said the unscrupulous elements level hills illegally to collect and sell earth to fill up canals and low lying lands for constructing houses and markets in the three hill districts.
Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) of Khagrachhari District Administration Gias Uddin Mogal admitted to the continued rampant hill cutting, causing loss of lives and properties in landslides during rainy season in Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban.
Mohammad Ali Kabir, divisional forest officer in Khagrachhari, said the CHT districts are facing serious threat of landslides that can occur at any place and at any time to claim lives and properties.
He underscored the need for an integrated approach and coordinated move to stop illegal hill cutting in order to saving lives and properties.