Prime Minister’s International Affairs Adviser Prof Dr Gowher Rizvi on Sunday said the government is committed to fully implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty signed in 1997.
“Although the implementation of the peace treaty is being delayed, the government is committed to implementing it,” he told the inaugural session of an international seminar at Radisson Hotel in the capital.
Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry and Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) jointly arranged the seminar, titled ‘Sustainable Development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts: Inclusive Growth and Prosperous Society in Hills and Mountains’.
The main objective of the seminar is to focus on the current challenges and identify innovative solutions leading to faster but sustainable development in the CHT.
Speaking as the chief guest, Gowher Rizvi said the peaceful environment in the CHT during two military regimes during the country’s pre- and post-independence periods deteriorated due to the setting up of a hydropower plant and settlement of Bengalis there.
A Pakistani junta built the Kaptai hydropower plant displacing a huge number of ethnic people from the CHT, he said, adding that another military ruler accommodated Bengali settlers there indiscriminately.
As a result of that, the PM’s adviser said, tension prevailed in the CHT for two decades and then the Sheikh Hasina government signed the CHT peace treaty on December 2, 1997 to restore peace in the hilly region.
He said the government has already amended the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 to effectively resolve longstanding land disputes in the CHT.
State Minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing said the CHT region has been experiencing unusual rains, frequent incidents of drought, landslide, and flood due to climate change.
Rivers and springs here are drying up here while agricultural production is falling sharply, he said, calling upon international organizations to come up with their projects to tackle the climate change impacts, and protect the CHT’s biodiversity and improve the livelihood of people.
Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs secretary Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, ICIMOD vice chairperson Dr. Margaret Catley-Carlson and its director general Dr. David Molden, among others, spoke on the occasion.