Hillocks ravaged in Sylhet under the guise of night | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 22, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:26 AM, September 22, 2020

Editorial

Hillocks ravaged in Sylhet under the guise of night

Officials must not turn a blind eye

A recent report published in this daily sheds light on the serious environmental disaster brewing across Sylhet. In order to meet the high demand for flat land in the race for urbanisation, hillock cutting runs rampant, despite the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (amended 2010), which strictly prohibits the cutting or razing of any types of hills and hillocks by any individual or institution. Moreover, the High Court had banned cutting of any types of hillock in Sylhet. Yet, in order to meet the mounting demand for plain land, hillock owners task contractors to raze down the hills, which usually takes place in the dead of the night to avoid attention. 

Although there are dedicated government officials to keep vigilance over such matters, one can only imagine why they turn a blind eye to such illegal activities. What's more shocking is that during one incident, the excavator of Sylhet City Corporation was used to cut the hillock by the brother of a councillor, who was later fined. Although DoE conducts drives now and then, they just end up fining the culprits. Such fines only serve as a mild reprimand, as the "profits" made—prices of the land increase by four to five times—far surpass the fine. Fines are simply not enough. Why aren't the actual owners being arrested? They must be punished in an exemplary manner for defying the laws set forth.

Too much damage has been done already. The authorities have been silent for too long. They need to come out of their slumber and hold those responsible to account, unless we are to believe that they, too, are complicit in these crimes.

The above incident highlights the audacity of the owners and their cohorts in carrying out such crimes with impunity. In order to keep the remaining hillocks from being razed, the laws must be implemented thoroughly and authorities concerned should strictly monitor the areas to ensure they are protected at all times from being razed.

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