International Mountain Day-2021 was observed on Saturday in the country like elsewhere across the world with the theme ‘Sustainable Mountain Tourism’. The day is being observed since 2003 after the UN declaration of International Year of Mountains came in 2002 under the phenomenon that unfortunately mountains are under threat from climate change and over exploitation.
As the global climate continues to warm, mountain people - some of the world’s poorest - face even greater struggles to survive. Our country’s hilly regions of north-eastern and south-easternpart have originated during the elevation of the Himalayans in Tertiary period. These hilly areas situated in greater Sylhet and Chattogram division are very attractive destinations for tourists. But it is saddening to note that country’s most hills are in very sorry state because of unabated hill cutting, tree felling and unplanned construction of structures. The hills are getting destroyed due to mindless deforestation and earth cutting for lack of monitoring and effective action plan to protect those.
People who are involved in illegal
hill cutting should face legal
Apart from greater Sylhet, Chittagong and CHT, the influential people have also been destroying the small and medium sized hills in Tangail and other districts. We think such unabated hill cutting is posing a serious threat to the environment in the hilly region. And these hills will be facing harsh consequences in the future if effective steps are not taken to check their ruination.
Some musclemen blessed by local influential political leaders and a section of government officials, are engaged in leveling the hills and hillocks in order to construct buildings and other structures. And they are selling out the red soils of the hills. Local people and environmentalists continued to upbeat against the greedy grabbers who are out to convert these hilly areas into plain lands in order to set up industries and houses or just to steal soil. Apart from them, Rohingyas, who entered the Cox’s Bazar district and other hilly areas, are also cutting tree and hill to construct their makeshift settlements, posing a great threat to the environment.
The Section 6 (Kha) of the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act 1995 prohibits cutting and/or razing hill and hillocks. But they can be cut or razed in national interest with the permission of the Department of Environment. Therefore, people who are involved in illegal hill cutting should face legal action immediately.
The ecological balance will be at stake if the existing hillocks are cut down and the area will be prone to landslides. Therefore, massive afforestation with indigenous plants, strong monitoring on hill resources and formation of a comprehensive hill management policy and proper action plan are a must to stop hill cutting and tree felling.