Dhaka, Jul 13: Around 20,000 families have been living in hill slopes of the Bandarban, Rangamati, Kgagrachori and Cox Bazar districts town and other areas amid the growing risk of landslide.
Growing rains with the advent of monsoon and unabated hill cutting have intensified the risk of landslide, creating panic among the hill residents.
Azmul Huda, general secretary of Cox’s Bazar Forest and Environment Conservation Council, an environmental organisation, said, "The Rohingya people who have been living in Ukhiya and Tekhnaf areas after cutting over 6,000 acres of forest also brace for possible landslide."
Besides, over 10,000 families in Badshaghona, Light House, Dakkhin Diggul, Dakkhin Hazipara, Pahartali, Sahikkika Palli, Ghonarpara, Moheshkhailla Para, Kalatali Adarshagram, Borachara, Boidyaghona, Mohajerpara, Link Road, Muhuri Para, Janarghora areas of Cox’s Bazar town are at the risk of landslide, he added.
Azmul Huda said 10,000 families are living in danger in the hilly areas of Ramu, Moheshkhali, Teknaf, Ukhiya and Pekua upazilas. Most of the houses have been built on forest land and government (khas) lands.
Talking to UNI, some residents of the town said many illegal structures have been established by cutting forest land and hills owned by the district administration.
President of Cox’s Bazar Banchao Andolon advocate Ayachhur Rahman said it was necessary to evict the illegal structures from the vulnerable hills well before the monsoon set in. Now the list of casualties would be long if landslides occur in the area, he said.
Nurul Amin, deputy director of Cox’s Bazar Environment Department, said at least 54 people, including six members of Bangladesh Army, were killed in landslides in different areas of the district in 2010.
The number of deaths in landslides was 200 between 2010 to 2017 in the district, he added.
Eviction drives alone can’t solve the problem as it needs massive awareness needed to stop living on hill slopes, he added.
Nurul Amin said miscreants were cutting hills secretly at night despite regular drives against illegal hill cutting were going on. According to sources, manpower crisis hampers the drive.
The sources at Cox’s Bazar Forest Department said 5,341 hectares of land of the South Forest department and 7,053 hectares under West Forest Department have been encroached.
Hundreds of people are also living on Khas land hills area of the district administration after capturing those, the sources added.
Deputy Commissioner of Cox’s Bazar Md Kamal Hossain told that people living in hills will be shifted to safer places like previous years.
"There had been no serious accident last year due to the collective efforts of all. We’ve formed several committees to conduct eviction drives in the hills," he added. (UNI)