Farhad Chowdhury: Unplanned development and sprawling structures like frog umbrellas are swallowing up St. Martin, the country’s only coral-rich island. Conscious people are expressing concern that the surroundings and biodiversity are being greatly damaged due to the unrestrained tourist traffic, their ignorance, construction of unplanned structures and environmental pollution in the coconut chain surrounded by clear water and coral rocks.
Experts say that even though there is a government ban on building any type of establishment in St. Martin, resorts, hotels, motels and restaurants are being built one after another in defiance of it. Due to this mismanagement, the environment of the island is gradually deteriorating. It is destroying the island’s algae-coral, oysters, snails, sea turtles, red crabs and other types of aquatic animals.
The Cox’s Bazar Development Authority (CODC) says that the government has taken strong steps to stop unplanned construction in St. Martin. A gazette has also been prepared in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to ensure that no unmanaged structures can be built on the island.
Committee Chairman Commodore Mohammad Nurul Abshar said, “It can be seen from the research that until now there have been many unplanned structures built on Saint Martin Island. Due to which the island is slowly going under the ground. We have issued a gazette in coordination with Ministry of Environment, Prime Minister’s Office and Caucus to prevent any such establishment in the future.
He said, “Government institutions will also not set up any kind of establishment in Saint Martin for commercial activities. We have a masterplan for Saint Martin. We are thinking about how to establish there in the eco system and we are also planning how to provide good entertainment for tourists and beautify the island through sustainable development.’
CODC chairman also said, “I contacted the resort chain of Maldives. We will start these activities with technical advice from them.
Commodore Mohammad Nurul Abshar said, “It should be controlled if tourists go to St. Martin recklessly.” If the overabundance of tourists makes St. Martin dirty and polluted, after a few years it will be seen that the beauty of St. Martin has been lost. In addition, sea turtles require a safe place to lay their eggs. Turtles lay their eggs where there is no human presence. But due to the free movement of tourists, the turtles cannot lay eggs. Likewise, there will be damage to other aquatic, terrestrial and biodiversity. So, the tourism system in Saint Martin needs to be brought to bearable level. Work is underway in this regard.
According to various sources, Saint Martin has 68 species of corals, 151 species of algae, 191 species of molluscs or crustaceans, 40 species of crabs, 234 species of marine fish, 5 species of dolphins, 4 species of amphibians, 28 species of reptiles, 120 species of birds, 20 species of Mammals, 175 species of plants, 2 species of bats were inhabited by various species of animals. Many of these animals are now extinct or on the verge of extinction. This biodiversity is slowly disappearing due to climate change and pollution.
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