Home Bangladesh Millions of settlers in hills are at risk
Bangladesh - District - 4 weeks ago

Millions of settlers in hills are at risk

Ayub Ali, Ctg: The central bus terminal at the entrance to the tourist town of Cox’s Bazar. From there, the four-lane road of Kalatali tourism zone passes through the mountains. On both sides of the road are densely forested hills. Those hills are full of half-built buildings and huts.
This precarious living has been going on for a long time at the foot of the hill which extends from Kalatali to Marine Drive to Teknaf.
Every year during the monsoon season, landslides occur in various areas including Cox’s Bazar city, Ukhia, Rohingya shelter camp in Teknaf. Cracks and landslides have occurred in 8 upazilas of the district at the beginning of monsoon this year. Recently, 12 people were killed in a separate mountain collapse. Among them, two local people and eight Rohingyas died in 5 places in Palangkhali area of Ukhia upazila on Tuesday night. A couple was killed in a landslide in Badshaghona area of Cox’s Bazar last Thursday night.
Environmentalists say that at least 500,000 people are living at the foot of the hill in District Sadar, Ukhia, Teknaf, Ramu, Eidgaon, Chakaria, Pekua and Maheshkhali. When the monsoon comes, the local administration mikes to move away from the dangerous mountains. Apart from this no effective action is seen to be taken.
However, there is no accurate statistics of illegal settlements and dangerous people living in the hills in the district.
According to the sources of the Forest Department, out of the 9 upazilas of Cox’s Bazar, one-third of the remaining eight upazilas except Qutubdia are forest lands. A large part of the vast biodiverse hill forest has been encroached in the last two decades.
According to the information of Cox’s Bazar North Forest Department, in the last 10 years, 13,347 acres of forest land under this department has been handed over to various departments of the government. Among the 76,457 acres of forest land of this division, 12,605 acres have been occupied by individuals.
A large part of the 1 lakh 20 thousand 583 acres of forest land of Cox’s Bazar South Forest Division has been lost. Among them, there are 33 Rohingya refugee camps in Ukhia and Teknaf covering about 15,000 acres of forest land. Dangerous settlements are also being developed in the mountains around the shelter camp.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Cox’s Bazar North Forest Division Anwar Hossain Sarkar said that the regular operations of the forest department against illegal encroachers in the hills are continuing. The cooperation of the district administration has been sought to recover the forest land that has been encroached upon.
President of Cox’s Bazar Citizens’ Forum ANM Helal Uddin said that recently there has been an increase in the cases of encroachment of protected forest hills and hill cutting in Cox’s Bazar. When there is an incident like mountain collapse and loss of life, there is an uproar about it, then everything is suppressed.
Bangladesh Environment Movement (Bapa) has been vocal for a long time against hill cutting and encroachment in Cox’s Bazar. The general secretary of Cox’s Bazar district committee of the organization Kalim Ullah told, “Everyone is aware of the terrible situation of mountain destruction in Cox’s Bazar.”
But no organization is taking effective role. In this case, a task force has to be formed to protect the mountain by combining the relevant departments, institutions and forces.
Cox’s Bazar Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Vibhishan Kanti Das said that regular campaigns are being conducted to warn the dangerous people living in the hills. Besides, the district administration is taking necessary measures by listing the risky settlements.
5500 houses of shelter camp are at risk of collapse
At least 1.2 million displaced Rohingya from Myanmar are living in 33 refugee camps in Ukhia and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar. Among these camps, 5,500 houses in the camp number 7 to 11 of Palangkhali Union of Ukhia Upazila are said to be at risk of landslide.
Cox’s Bazar Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner’s Office has informed that 24 people have died due to landslides in the camp since 2018. Most of the landslides occurred in the last three years.
Cox’s Bazar Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mohammad Mizanur Rahman said that the work of relocating families at risk in the Rohingya camp has started.

Check Also

President Joe Biden tests positive for COVID-19 while campaigning in Las Vegas, has ‘mild symptoms’

International Desk: President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 while traveling Wedne…