95pc of Rangamati habitats destroyed in landslides illegal

Partha Shankar Saha | Update:

This general view shows dwellings under mud after a landslide in Rangamati on 13 June, 2017. Photo: AFP

A municipality mayor of Rangamati district said as many as 95 per cent of the households destroyed in the landslides were illegal.

"Less than 5 per cent of the houses destroyed in landslides were legal," said Akbar Hossain Chowdhury, the Rangamati municipality mayor.

The municipality mayor also said the district council actually gave permission to different individuals for settlement. He had no involvement with that, the mayor added.

Recently at least 115 people were killed in a series of landslides in the hilly districts of southeast Bangladesh.

Rangamati additional deputy commissioner Prakash Kanti told Prothom Alo that landslides killed at least 56 people in the municipality area alone.

More than 150 houses were destroyed after landslides hit the areas.

Authorities concerned said, according to law, anyone wanting to build a house in the area, must have deeds of the land, soil test reports, and architectural and building permission. That means the authorities only permits pucca (brick and cement) buildings.

In reply to this, he said, "Most of the houses were either tin-sheds or of mud. The houses were built without our permission."

You will find a small number of houses there are pucca, Akbar Hossain added.

Rangamati district council chairman Brishketu Chakma said, "The mayor can blame us, but we did not give permission for settlements there. He's wrong."

Local people said some of the pucca buildings also collapsed in the landslides.

Asked about it, the Rangamati municipality executive engineer Atikur Rahman said, "The entire hill is 80 feet but, engineers test soil up to 30 feet and submit their report."

On the other hand, some people build houses inside the hills. "Thus, it becomes tough for us to monitor the places."

Hill Tracts Citizen Committee's president, Goutam Dewan blamed the municipality authorities in this regard.

The former chairman of Rangamati municipality and district council said there is lack of coordination between municipality and district council authorities.

It is high time to remove the lack of coordination, he added.


*The article is rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam

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