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Rangamati roads repair to take weeks -The Asian Age


Rangamati is cut off from rest of Bangladesh. The unprecedented landslides in Rangamati which damaged the vital road infrastructures to and from the picturesque hill town is snapped for a week. Two roads which connect Rangamati have been devoured in the landslides during torrential rains in advent of monsoon.

Already, Barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud, Minister, Ministry of Water Resources,Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MoCHTA), Bir Bahadhur, State Minister, Secretary of MoCHTA, Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, Additional Secretary Kamal Talukder and Joint Secretary, MoCHTA, Sudatta Chakma, are in Rangamati to assess the situation on the ground.

The ministers and senior officials in Rangamati held coordination meetings with officials of the district administration officials and Bangladesh Army and that the crucial road communication "will take a long time to repair", wrote Bikram Kishore Tripura in Facebook on Saturday.

A crucial meeting of Relief and Rehabilitation Coordination was held on Friday at Deputy Commi-ssioner, Rangamati's Conference Room. The meeting was attended by Tarun Ghosh, Vice Chairman, Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board (CHTDB), Brig Gen Faruk, Region Commander, Rangamati, Ushaton Talukdar MP, Chakma Circle Chief Barrister Debashish Roy, Riaz Ahmad, Director General, Disaster Management, Rangamati Police Chief Syed Tariqul.

The Secretary also wrote that at "the moment Rangamati is [only] accessible through waterways from Kaptai."Executive Engineer of the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) in Rangamati, Emdad Hossain, said roads caved in at 37 spots with heavy damage in 145 locations across the district.

The death toll of the massive landslides has risen to 158 people and more than 40 are still missing. Rescue operation is going round the clock to find any survivors.

Bangladesh is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, exposed to a variety of natural disasters including cyclones, floods, earthquakes and landslides (ranked 35th out of 162 countries), states a European Commission recent report.

Meanwhile, Rangamati District Administration has banned procession and rallies in the Hill district for a month.Some has also posted in Bikram Kishore Tripura's Facebook that the nature has taken its revenge for man-made deforestation, hill-cutting to build houses and agriculture farms.

Former Conservator of Forest, Mihir Kiran, writes: "Very sad and heart breaking. Demographic balance is must for the soil condition of the region. Otherwise we have to face the same unbearable fate every year."

Tripura in a response said: Ideal but difficult to implement. You (Mihir Kiran) were one of the longest serving CCF of FD. You had the experience of failure in plantation in CHT, of course it was our collective failure, not at all personal. Nature has given us a grim signal. We must act without further delay. Time is running out fast.

However, Kirti Nishan Chakma writes in Facebook that "We can and must dissect the causes that has led to this tragedy. But this can wait a little later."

"Urgent help is needed at the moment. There is a real risk of crisis of the essentials (rice, dal, salt, medicines, etc.) as that the two roads that connects Rangamati to the rest of the country are now completely cut off and repairing them is likely to take a long time given the hilly terrain," opines writes Kirti Nishan Chakma, General Secretary at Moanoghar a home for distressed children in the Hills.

"A real scarcity of the essentials, maybe it is panic buying or hoarding by the people that is exhausting the available stocks, maybe it the typical dishonest traders who are trying to make quick bucks on the back of this catastrophe. Whatever are reasons, immediate interventions by the government is needed," writes General Secretary at Moanoghar.

Already the price of the essentials is rising. It is not only Rangamati town,the entire or most of the Rangamati district could be affected.

However, the MoCHTA Secretary affirms that the government will do the needful for the relief, rehabilitation of the distressed people and repairs and reconstruction of the infrastructures. We have to have some patience.