Warning that the eye-soothing natural beauty of the world's longest natural sea beach of Cox's Bazar is at stake, speakers at a programme demanded formation of a National Commission to protect the beach from being destroyed in the name of development.
Leaders of Cox's Bazar Nagorik Forum, a platform of people in the district, made the urge at a roundtable held at National Press Club on Saturday.
They also urged the authorities concerned to stop splitting the world's longest natural sea beach into two and to put an end to continuous destroying of Jhaubon, meaning tamarisk forest, which saves the beach and the locality from natural disasters.
In a written statement, ANM Helal Uddin, convener of the platform, said the 120-kilometre beach, stretching from Cox's Bazar Airport to Shah Porir Dwip of Teknaf upazila, is our pride. Moreover, biodiversity of Cox's Bazar sanctuary was also enviable.
He said, "The forests of Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas have already been destroyed for accommodation of the Rohingya refugees. Enviable biodiversity is now just a memory. Cox's Bazar beach, the longest in the world, is now being split into two due to unplanned sand extraction in the name of implementing development projects including Sheikh Hasina air-base."
"We are only protesting the destruction of our biodiversity and ecology, not opposing the government's development initiatives," he said.
"The Jhaubon was created on Cox's Bazar beach according to Bangabandhu's instruction, enhancing beauty of the beach as well as protecting people of the locality from natural disasters, he said, adding but it is great sorrow that the jhaubon is now being replaced by barbed wire fences.
"With the sound of warplanes and MiG-29s, Cox's Bazar will be turned into a polluted city for the next generation. We are protesting against such acts," he said.
Speakers at the programme described these acts as a risk for Cox's Bazar beach and asked the government to undertake development projects saving the beach.
Poet Muhammad Nurul Huda presided over the programme attended by, among others, prominent writer and columnist Abul Maqsood, Bhaskar Rasha, Air Force Group Captain (Retd) Lokman Farooq, Editor of the Monthly Public Administration Naeem Mashreqi and Dr Zubayer Mohammad.