Deprived of the right to water | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 01, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 01, 2019

Editorial

Deprived of the right to water

Indigenous communities in Bandarban continue to suffer

A report published in this daily on February 27 lays bare the miserable conditions that indigenous communities living in and around Jogendra Tangchangya Para of Bandarban's Alikadam upazila are grappling with. These communities are facing a severe water crisis as a result of deforestation, stone theft and tobacco plantation which have dried up the once-mighty creek Roambo jhiri. Amidst such adverse conditions, many people ended up leaving the area last year.

This is one of countless examples of unabated environmental degradation severely affecting marginalised communities in remote parts of the country. This is also yet another manifestation of our total disregard for the protection of our environment. Roambo jhiri is not the only creek to have dried up in the area—many other springs and creeks, which locals were dependent on for freshwater, have turned barren too. It is hard to imagine what choice is left for these helpless communities, given that underground water level has fallen so much that digging wells isn't of much use either.

The local administration cannot simply sit back and prolong the sufferings of these people who have been facing water crisis for several years. It is unacceptable that despite complaints being made about illegal logging, stone theft and use of deep tube wells at the tobacco plantation, the local government has taken no action. We urge the Ministry of Environment and Forests and relevant departments to look into this matter and take appropriate action. The local administration must act in coordination with relevant government bodies to find solutions for alternative supply of water for these communities and provide some relief to these people who have been suffering for far too long.

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