Monday, March 30, 2020 | ePaper

Forest should have the shield as national property

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DIFFERENT organisations and individuals have occupied 279,096 acres of forest land in the last 50­60 years though the Bangladesh Forest Industries Development Corporation has no record on total areas grabbed. This shocking information has recently been revealed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. As per data, the Forest Department had allocated a total of 43,095 acres of land against the BFIDC but at present, the total land area is not under the possession of the authority. The Forest Department allocated 160,032 acres of land to different organisations while 279,096 acres of forest land were occupied by various organisations and individuals. Even the state-owned Karnaphuli Paper Mills situated on 99 acres of forest land failed to accomplish bamboo harvesting and did not ensure proper management of land in the last few years which is a violation of the conditions outlined in the lease. The government must realise the forest land from the individual and organizations' possessions to overcome the climate change effects.
Bangladesh had already lost forest resources of about Tk 1,800 crore for hosting the Rohingyas at Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas in Cox's Bazar. It is estimated around Tk 456.08 crore lost for the disappearance of trees in 6,163.5 acres of hilly land areas used to accommodate 30 makeshift camps and a total of Tk 1,400 crore in ecological damages. The JS body recommended the ministries and department concerned to stop allowing unauthorised forest activities as part of livelihoods in forest areas to prevent people from occupying the land.
However, vegetation in Sundarbans, Shal forest of Gazipur, national reserve forests across the country has also been hampered. Influential people backed by the ruling party men and some businessmen in coherence with government officials have been grabbing the land.
The government's wrong policy is, however, mainly responsible for the present situation. First the authorities concerned must realise that forest is our national property. And therefore, it is our honest responsibility to save our forest for the sake of maintaining the ecological balance.

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