Of marine accidents and forests | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, December 07, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, December 07, 2009

Of marine accidents and forests

TWO issues (problems) are haunting our collective minds and they need to be perceived, probed and analysed from the citizens' point of view. Both the issues are of utmost national importance and deserve vigorous citizens' debate and deliberation. We have no clue as to how the governments, that came and went in succession after shedding a lot of blood and spending fantastic sums, looked at them. What we believe is that if they had looked at them with due seriousness no nuisance would have existed today.
Unfortunately, because of non-action from any quarter these problems or issues continue to manifest in glaring recklessness even when a democratic government is in power. And they happen despite the fact that all politicians promise to end these problems once in power. And the reality is, when they actually sit on their mini "thrones" they "cannot" act, for one reason or the other. Perhaps the cynics have some insight about why politicians cannot act decisively to evict encroachers and forest looters.
Both the issues that we are going to talk about must be addressed by this government to convince us that it is truly a people's government and not that of some lowly looters, plunderers, thieves and fair weather birds. Men and women who have joined to form this government and the party (AL) that has got a huge mandate of the people need to do it to earn votes of the people in many more elections in the future. Because, the secret is, all the good works done today will ultimately work in their favour and help them stay in the political arena for years to come.
First we talk about the incidence of passenger launches capsizing at a regular interval in various rivers of this country. Hundreds of men, women and children die every year to become headlines in red colour. Next day, or the day next, we forget about them and then they go to the archives. Can we call capsizing of boats "accidents?" Accidents happen on rare occasions, only when something goes grossly wrong with engines or when human(s) fail to react in time to an unpredictable internal or external stimulus. But can we call something like capsizing of passenger launches in Bangladesh at regular intervals accidents?
Every year, during Eid vacations or before any long vacations, we comment that some of those launches carrying passengers beyond capacity will capsize. And to our complete horror they actually do! Right before the eyes of the administration the overloaded passenger launches start for their destination and we simply wait for the bad news. So, you see, the element of unpredictability is not there anymore, therefore, you cannot call it accident. Then what is it? In one sentence -- mass murder. Knowingly, the administration, law enforcers and the owners of the vessels are pushing hundreds of people to their inevitable deaths. Ironically, the victims buy tickets to the afterworld with their hard earned money.
And mark my words…you will hear of many, many similar sinking of passenger boats and trawlers and deaths of hundreds of men, women and children in the coming future.
Next, we talk about plundering of our pristine forests by our own people and not by the British or Pakistanis. Instead of having forests covering 20 to 25 percent of the total landmass, we have about 4 to 5 percent in the country. The rest of it has gone inside the stomachs of our own people who were supposed to protect them.
So, when people who are entrusted with the solemn responsibility of protecting the resources of the country themselves loot and plunder why should we chase ordinary highway robbers? Hundreds of robbers cannot rob in a year what one single forest officer can in a couple of months. Remember the gachhkheko Osman Gani and his mattress made of 500 taka notes? Could he do it all by himself? Could he do it without the help of other forest officials and members of law enforcing agencies and the local political people? Did he take it all for himself or did he have to share the loot with everyone?
A vicious network comprising officials in the administration, members of the law enforcing agencies and some of the political people grossly misuse their power to rob the forests and thus destroy the food chain system and ecological balance. For felling of trees in pristine forests various species of birds, butterflies, large and small animals and insects have already gone extinct.
The Kalinga and Rema forests in Srimongol, covering a total area of nearly 1,795 hectares, are on the verge of total destruction because of reckless looting of trees by "influential people" in collaboration with the forest officials. Together these two forests stand next to the Sundarbans. Have you ever wondered how the pristine forests of the country stood unscathed for hundreds of years up until the seventies? Because politicians and police officials and most of the forest officials of the past would not stoop so low to accept bribes to let looters plunder the forest. They had a lot of scruple left in their system. The quality of most people joining these departments since the independence is not worth commenting on. Their wickedness, manifesting in unequalled dimensions all around, is contributing to moral erosion in society. But who cares!

Shahnoor Wahid is a Senior Assistant Editor of The Daily Star. He can be contacted at shahnoorwahid @yahoo.co.uk

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star News App. Click here to download it for your device.

fifa world cup

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News