Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin yesterday directed the authorities concerned to move people living at the foot of hills in Chattogram.
The minister issued the directive while speaking at the 20th meeting of the Hill Management Committee at the Circuit House in the port city.
“We have visited some spots and saw many people living illegally on the hills of Chattogram city. We cannot allow anyone to live there due to the risk of landslides. Nobody can live precariously in this way, even if it’s their private hill,” the minister said.
“The government has taken the decision in principle to evict anyone living in hills or hillocks,” he stated.
Divisional Commissioner of Chattogram ABM Azhar said to accelerate the eviction process, utility lines may have to be cut. A decision to inform people about the enormous risks of landslides was made in the meeting.
Referring to the recent fine of Tk 10.38 crore slapped on the Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) by the Department of Environment (DoE), the minister said the fine was imposed after CDA violated conditions stipulated by the DoE.
Muazzom Hossen, director of DoE (Chattogram region), alleged that big conglomerates were found involved in hill cutting. These organisations collaborate with corrupt high-ups to ensure they cannot be stopped, he added.
DoE Chattogram filed a total of 169 cases against hill cutting in greater Chattogram from 2011 to 2020, with most of them being filed against ruling party men, big companies, and local influentials.
Representatives from DoE Chattogram regional office, DoE Chattogram Metropolitan, Wasa, CDA, Chattogram City Corporation, and Power Development Board were present among others at the meeting.