Experts at a press conference on Monday called for quick repatriation, redistribution or decongestion of Rohingya to avoid permanent damage to Cox's Bazar natural resources.They also urged the authorities concerned to create an environment recovery fund for Cox's Bazar.
COAST Trust and Cox's Bazar CSO NGO Forum (CCNF) jointly organized the press conference at the Jatiya Press Club in the capital on the eve of the World Environment Day that falls on Tuesday.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, CCNF Co-Chair and COAST Trust Executive Director, moderated the press conference. Dr Atiq Rahman, renowned climate expert and Chief Executive of Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies (BCAS), presented expert opinions at the press conference while Barkat Ullah Maruf of COAST Trust placed the research findings on environment, water, pollution situation in Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas and Fazlul Quader Chowdhury of Green Cox's and President of BAPA Cox's Bazar district unit presented research findings on the ground water situation of the district.
In his research presentation, Maruf said 2,250 tonnes of firewood are being burnt every day only for cooking in Ukhia and Teknaf and if alternative fuel is not provided, the entire forest of those areas will be lost by 2019.
He suggested seven immediate action points in this regard and those include quick repatriation of Rohingya or their redistribution or decongestion fulfilling their basic human rights, creating an environment recovery fund with a portion of contribution including a contribution from relief or aid money, and supplying alternative cooking fuel like LPG gas bottle to refugees without any further delay and on priority basis.
All natural canals of Ukhia and Teknaf have to be cleaned and there should be massive re-excavation of ponds in these areas to enhance preservation of surface water, he said adding that there should be a policy to limit the extraction of ground water in the two upazilas.
Fazlul Quader Chowdhury said the ground water of Cox's Bazar has been affected during the last decades for rapid urbanisation and extra pressure of tourism.
Radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, monazite and zircon have been found in more than tolerable level in the ground water of Cox's Bazar town and district while surface water sources of Cox's Bazar have been reduced to 63 percent but settlement has been increased by 246 percent, he said.
He proposed recovery of surface water sources and also introduction of desalination plant for drinking water supply in Cox's Bazar town.
In his speech Dr Atiq Rahman said forest is not just some trees. This is a composition of several ecosystems of lives and it cannot be replaced with growing some trees once the forest is lost.
Rezaul Karim Chowdhury proposed changing the present shelter approach with redistribution or decongestion of refugees which should be more human and respecting to their right to life.
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