No active plan to prevent hillslides, loss of life
Friday, 29 August 2008

Probe committee reports

Staff Reporter

A probe committee, formed after the lethal Aug 18 hillslide in Chittagong, has reported that there are no concerted efforts to prevent loss of life from hillslides.

Acting city corporation mayor M Manzur Alam told that the committee made 16 recommendations, saying that human lives are being sacrificed as there is no active plan to protect against hillslide disasters in Chittagong.
Over a hundred people were killed in a Chittagong hillside last year.
Following the most recent deaths of 11 people during the 'Tank Hill' slide in the city's Motijharna area on Aug 18, the city corporation formed a five member investigation committee headed by the corporation's chief revenue officer Mohiudddin Ahmed Khan.
Their probe suggests that the negligence of WASA—the leaseholder of 'Tank Hill'—the actions of land grabbers through collusion with locals and risky low-income dwellings, were among the reasons for the disaster and resulting deaths that day.
The committee, in its three-page report submitted to the mayor, said: hills are being cut to build houses, unplanned dwellings are going up, no organisation is making efforts to evict, and no maintenance work is done resulting in these disasters occurring year on year.
M Manzur Alam told Tuesday: "Chittagong City Corporation will take necessary active steps in light of the probe report to avoid future hillslides and the loss of lives."
He said the city corporation will instruct government agencies to evict illegal leaseholders of the hills and to make the foothills safe.
Police and other law enforcement agencies have been notified to take strict measures against illegal leaseholders, he said.
"If local people's representatives are involved in illegal activities tough action will be taken against them too," he added.
The mayor said suggestions have also been made to make a list and take strict measures against government officials who have supplied power, gas, water and other essential services to temporary dwellings set up by illegal settlers of the hills.
Other suggestions in the 16-point probe report include: harsh measures against local influentials involved in cutting hills, identifying their collaborators in the government and taking necessary action against them, investigating how and why the hills were leased, monitoring maintainance work on the hills, putting barbed wire fences around risky hill areas.

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