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No readiness or preparations to save people from landslide incidents

23 June 2022 Editorial Desk
No readiness or preparations to save people from landslide incidents

Risk of landslides in the monsoon season is a known problem in Chattogram. However, the city authorities seem not prepared yet to prevent casualties from landslides. Al least four people died and six others injured from landslides on June 18 in the district. Reportedly, thousands of poor people are still living on the hill slopes though many died of landslides in the last few years. Despite torrential rain and stranded water paralysing city life, people living on hillsides are in continuous fear of collapse. Such incidents prompted the local administration to evict people off the hillocks.

After the 2007 landslides that killed 127 people, two probe committees made 72 recommendations but none of them has been implemented in the last 15 years. Meanwhile, as many as 209 lives have been lost. The hills there are owned by the government. A syndicate of some local leaders of the ruling party built a colony there by cutting the hill. They rent the space to low-income people. The recommendations put forward by the probe committees included emergency afforestation in the hills, construction of guide walls, and eviction of illegal settlements from the foothills, prohibition of new settlements, and strict legal action against those involved in deforestation. None of them has been implemented yet.

The crisis is exacerbated by the unprofessionalism of the local administration, the apathy of politicians, and the lack of coordination among government agencies. Those bearing the brunt of it are mostly from the lower-income class. The lands on the foot of the hill are grabbed by rich influential people, who make illegal establishments there and rent those to the poverty-afflicted.

The government has no idea about importance of enforcing environmental laws, and stopping razing hillocks and trees for protecting the natural terrain. Evicting people living in the area is not the solution,    the government should rehabilitate the poor people.

The bureaucracy led government understands manipulated showcase development of mega projects for making mega money. What is good for the people is more a matter of mouthing empty words. Money for the few is what matters to the kind of government we have.

It makes no sense to talk about political will where politics and political considerations are absent.

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