Fazlul Kader Chowdhury, general secretary, Cox’s Bazar Environmental Journalists Forum, told New Age that environment department has fined Md Yunus Butto, Chairman, South Mitachari Union Parished, Ramu and ruling party leader Tk 6 lakh for hill cutting on Saturday last. It is a significant punishment for illegal cutting of the government hill and grabbing of land.
‘Some hundreds of influential people, including lawmakers, political party leaders have grabbed reserved forest, protected forest, mangrove forest, coastal forest over the last few years and built structures, used land for shrimp projects and for salt production in the coastal areas,’ he said, adding that hundreds of cases were filed against them but government inaction makes things worse.
‘Hill cutting is continuing unabated at Cox’s Bazar district. It is leaving a drastic impact on a huge area encompassing regions from Pekoua to Teknaf and also Moheskhali. Hills are being cut everywhere by the government as well as the public. Government is cutting hill in the name of development, which only make ways for the people to follow in their footsteps,’ Fazlul Kader said.
‘Hill cutting is absolutely illegal but the government is cutting hills in violating of government rules. Recently, Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner sent a proposal for approval of 700 acres reserved forest for Bangabhandu BCS training Academy,’ he added.
Earlier, sixty acres of forest land occupied for established of seismograph department at Pechar Dip under Ramu police station.
`Hill and forest grabbers as well as river encroachers are also constructing structures at Cox’s Bazar district using political clout,’ he said.
Fazlul Kader further added that Cox’s Bazar deputy commissioner had also turned a deaf ear to Bangladesh Supreme Court’s order and has grabbed 51 acres housing of Cox’s Bazar for grade 3 employees.
At present, underground water became very scarce in the district. In Cox’s Bazar town, underground water had already been salty and laden with iron, he added.
‘Government must change their strategy for drinking water,’ he pointed out.
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