Landslides have been causing tragic deaths every year during the monsoon in the hilly areas of Chattogram, but the authorities are still reluctant to reveal the names of those responsible for the man-made disaster.
This year, the local administration has listed 835 families who have been living in 17 most vulnerable hills in Chattogram, but did nothing to expose the influential people who set up the illegal structures.
Influential land-grabbers are involved in cutting hills and constructing precarious homes on hill slopes, heightening the possibility of avoidable landslips and unwanted deaths.
Officials of the local administration said it is not their responsibility to name the land-grabbers.
“Making a list of land-grabbers is not our job. It is under the jurisdiction of the intelligence agencies,” said Deputy Commissioner of Chattogram Elias Hossain.
In 2016, intelligence agencies made a list of hill-grabbers, and some top Awami League and BNP leaders came up in it. The list is yet to be published, which is why the politicians involved in the wrongdoing are still unexposed.
In March, the office of Chattogram Deputy Commissioner wrote to six assistant commissioners of land, instructing them to identify the influential hill-grabbers.
However, no information about that has been published so far.
“People know better about the godfathers who are behind this, but the local administration lacks the courage to publish their names. Local political leaders have to team up with the administration to take punitive measures against the land-grabbers,’’ said Muhammad Sekandar Khan, head of the Chattogram office of the civil society platform Sushasoner Jonno Nagorik.
A Department of Environment report has listed around 30 hills in Chattogram region as vulnerable.
The report said around 207 people were killed in landslides in Chattogram in the last decade, with the most casualties (128) recorded in 2007.
Following the 2007 landslide deaths, the government formed a hill management committee. It found out 28 major reasons behind landslides and made 36 recommendations to prevent those.
The recommendations, however, are yet to be implemented.