Speakers at a seminar yesterday demanded strong political will and exemplary punishment for those responsible for deforestation and hill cutting in hilly areas. The settlers have been facilitated to those areas for decades and establishments have been built without any assessment, they said.
"There was no geological survey before building the roads on and inside the mount. The political culprits took the chance and razed the hills triggering frequent landslide in hills incidents," they opined. They made the remark yesterday at a seminar titled 'Landslide: Cause, Effect and Disaster Management' at CIRDAP auditorium. Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), China Embassy in Dhaka and Bangladesh China Chamber of Commerce and Industries jointly organized the program.
The speakers urged the government to take stern action to curb landslide and declare the hilly area as 'reserve forest'. Civil Aviation Minister Rashed Khan Menon attended the program as the chief guest. Stressing on political will, He said: "We have to decide how much nature we will sacrifice for developmental purpose."
"The people of the plain land have been settled to the hills endangering the ethnic minorities and ecological balance," he also said. In the meantime, columnist Syed Abul Maksud suggested not treating landslides only as natural disaster. He said: "Encroachers and ill-politicians are behind the incidents." He suggested the government in formulating a separate cell in this regard.
Dhaka University Geology Department Prof Badrul Imam slammed the government for "slow responses" to the recent landslide in hills. "The initiatives are poor and it is assumed that we have to witness such incidents in future." In the keynote, DU Department of Geography and Environment Prof Dr M Shahidul Islam said:
"The first landslide in hills occurred in Kaptai in 1968 and so far, a total of 448 people have died due to the disasters. Surprisingly, there is no word 'landslides' in the existing Disaster Laws and Acts. Dhaka University Prof Mahbuba Nasrin, QM Mahbub and Mihir Biswas of Bapa also spoke at the program.
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