Representatives of the environmental movement and civil society have called for the development of agro-based industries for the development of the country's south-western region because sustainable development will not be possible if it leaves behind the coastal region – which is one-third of the country.
At a human chain and rally, organised by civic organisation Sundarban O Upakul Surakkha Andolon and non-governmental development organisation Ledars, on Friday in front of the National Press Club, they also put forward a nine-point demand to deal with disasters in the region.
Ruhin Hossain Prince, a leader of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, said the cost of growing crops for farmers in coastal areas is high. Therefore, it is necessary to build agro-based industries for the development of the farmers of the region as well as alternative employment.
Aminul Rasul Babul of Unnayan Dhara Trust said a coastal board should be formed for the development of the coastal region. For embankments to be effective, a feasibility study has to be done beforehand.
He demanded a special allocation from the government for the people of the region.
The speakers also said the crisis in public life in the coastal areas of the country is constantly increasing due to the harmful effects of climate change. The Covid-19 situation and Super Cyclone Amphan exacerbated the crisis. Six months have passed since Amphan, but public life has not returned to normal. Therefore, urgent and effective measures need to be taken to address this crisis.
Among others, Nikhil Chandra Bhadra, coordinator of the Sundarban O Upakul Surakkha Andolon; Mihir Biswas of Poribesh Bachao Andolon; Moniruzzaman Mukul of KNH Germany representative; Jahangir Nakir, president of Street Children Activist Network or SCAN; and Sakila Parveen of Sachetan Sangstha spoke on the occasion.
The demands include rebuilding permanent and strong embankments in the face of climate change and disasters, building a preventive system with adequate cyclone centres and involving the local government in dam maintenance as well as the formation of an emergency fund and dam management.
The demands also comprise a sustainable solution to the drinking water of all coastal people, the appropriate utilisation of funds from the World Climate Fund to tackle climate change and the creation of effective infrastructure for the protection of life and property of disaster-prone coasts, chars and islands.
They have also demanded that various promotional activities be initiated throughout the year to increase public awareness, undertake extensive afforestation programmes – on coasts, islands and pastures to prevent storms and land erosion and establish green belts – and to ensure effective measures are taken to protect the world heritage Sundarbans.