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Sunday, June 24, 2018

Be proactive to prevent landslides

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As the monsoon season is approaching, the fear of landslide in the hilly districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is rising. The memories of unfortunate death of around two hundred people from landslide caused by incessant downpour in three hilly districts last year are still fresh in our mind.

It is to our profound consternation that such human tragedy, which is completely a man-made one, recurs almost every year in the hilly regions of the country even though the severity does differ.

And it is a matter of great pity that even though the causes behind the recurrent landslides and the necessary remedial measures are very much well-known, we cannot prevent the tragedy owing to a laxity of the authorities concerned in taking prompt and timely action. Every year, people make hue and cry only after such tragedies take place.

Environmentalists stage demonstrations protesting illegal cutting of hills and government authorities concerned also express their promises to take necessary measures. A few initiatives are also taken up immediately. However, those initiatives are not implemented properly and as a result the calamity occurs year after year.

It is worth mentioning here that the government formed a Hill Management Committee back in 2007 to look into the matter. The HMC made various proposals, but so far, most of these have not been implemented.

Instead, the situation is getting even worse, since some nefarious businessmen in collusion with political bigwigs have kept cutting hills illegally and building makeshift houses on the slope and at the foot of the hills.

Those houses are provided with utility connections and are rented out to poor people. Resultantly, the threat of death from landslide looms large in the hilly regions with the advent of monsoon.

After the huge devastation that was caused by a series of landslide last year it was only expected that the authorities would show no more negligence in this respect. However, a report published in this paper saying that around 15,000 people are still living under threat of landslide in Rangamati district alone makes it clear they have failed to rise up to our expectations.

What is more, many of the some seven million Rohingyas who have taken refuge in the country have been rehabilitated in shanties built on the hillsides. This has posed a greater threat of the catastrophic landslide.           
We therefore call upon the local administration to take immediate measures so that the families living under threat of landslide can be relocated before the monsoon sets in.

This will at least prevent casualties. And, in order to stop the recurrence of the disaster in the long run the devious section of businessmen, who rent out the land, putting peoples' lives under threat, must be given exemplary punishment and the recommendations of the HMC must be implemented.

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