Tuesday, 30 May, 2023

Reckless cutting of hills must stop

Reckless cutting of hills must stop

Deaths from landslides in Chattogram have become frequent owing to indiscriminate hill-cutting, deforestation and illegal human settlement on hill slopes. At least three people were killed in a landslide at Beltoli Ghona area of Akbar Shah Union in Chattogram on Friday. Ironically, in spite of frequent deaths from landslide, destruction of hill continues unabated and as many as four lakh people are still living on the hill slopes in danger of landslide. It speaks volumes about to what extent we have become adamant in ignoring basic safety rules, and as a result one after another manmade disaster is hounding us.

Reportedly, at least 35 hills have been wiped off the map in Chattogram alone in the last one decade. Moreover, 156 hills are on the verge of extinction due to reckless hill-cutting, excessive sand extraction and deforestation. Due to the indiscriminate cutting of hills, not only the hills are collapsing frequently, but also Chattogram city is becoming barren day by day. Besides, the city's drains and sewer lines are being filled with sand coming down from the hills, causing severe flooding.

And yet, there is no precedent that any strict measures have been taken in this regard. As a result, hill-cutting, illegal construction and construction of settlements did not stop in Chattogram and hilly districts.

We must remember that nature runs on its own course. If we are not sincere in protecting the environment, we will have to pay a heavy price in terms of losing many more lives and destruction of properties. It is expected that the government will take effective steps to prevent illegal hill-cutting and rehabilitate the people living on hill slopes. Given that a large number of people are still living on hill slopes in perpetual danger of landslide, we wonder whether the authorities are sincere enough about protecting those vulnerable people.

Overall, the forest area of the country has been shrinking gradually due to the pressure of population and extension of farmland, illegal encroachments and leasing by the government for various purposes. As the forest area shrinks critically, many wildlife species are being decimated dangerously. It is about time the authorities concerned took proper stock of multi-pronged problems of destroying forests.