Geology experts and disaster responders said on Friday that disasters in hilly areas like landslide would be inevitable in future if the government failed to check denudating and indiscriminate cutting of hills.
Addressing a seminar on landslide in Bangladesh : Causes, Consequences and Issues of Disaster Management, they said that several cracks due to climate change developed in the fragile hills across Chittagong Hill Tracts which posed potential threats of mudslides.
They suggested the government should immediately form an indigenous knowledge-based hill management committee to protect the surviving hills.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Bangladesh-China Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Bangladesh-China Culture and Economic Centre and Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh jointly organised the seminar at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.
Keynotes speaker, also a Dhaka University professor of geography and environment Shahidul Islam, said that at least 448 people had died since 1999 due to landslides in Chittagong division.
He said the recent disastrous landslides at 30 locations in CHT could be averted if the government implemented recommendations by experts made after the similar incidents in 2007.
‘Farming pattern and livelihood styles of the plain-land people settled in CHT were conflicting to the indigenous culture, and that threatened the ecological balance of the hills,’ he said.
He recommended for mapping of disaster-prone hilly areas, comprehensive hill management and forestation with indigenous plants.
Brigadier general Ali Ahmed Khan, director general of fire service and civil defense, said infrastructure development like road construction in the CHT without geological study made the area prone to landslides.
Chief guest and civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon said that political consensus was crucial for proper hill management.
‘We should refrain from aggressive infrastructure development as it disturbed the ecology and biodiversity of the hills,’ he said.
Chaired by columnist Syed Abul Maksud, the seminar was also addressed by Dhaka University professors Badrul Imam and Mahbuba Nasreen, BAPA general secretary Mohammad Abdul Matin and BCCCI general secretary Shahjahan Mridha, among others.