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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Take urgent steps to prevent further landslides in hill region

AT least 11 people have been killed in separate incidents of landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in Rangamati and Cox's Bazar. Among the deceased, 10 were killed in Naniarchar upazila of Rangamati and one in Maheshkhali upazila of Cox's Bazar, as per a local daily report.
In Naniarchar, landslides in Boro Kul Para, Hati Mara and Siyalli Para took place early today, triggered by non-stop rain since Sunday. Naniarchar Police Station Officer-in-Charge Muhammad Abdul Latif confirmed the casualties and their identities. Further rescue works are underway.
In Cox's Bazar, Badsha Mia, 35, was buried alive around 6:00am in Moheshkhali upazila, our local staff correspondent reports quoting Pradip Kumar Das, Officer-in-Charge of Maheshkhali Police Station. The body has been handed over to the family. The district administration has offered Tk 20,000 as aid to the family. It is to be noted that last year, during the monsoon, Bangladesh's most devastating series of landslides in a decade killed at least 170 people, 120 alone in Rangamati.
Man-made causes contributed largely to the recent landslides in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and a political commitment is required to address those causes for averting disaster in the region .The formation of a comprehensive hill land use policy and construction code for building infrastructure, including roads, in the hilly districts is needed to avert future disasters.
Hill cutting, unauthorised human settlements, deforestation, faulty infrastructure construction and change in agricultural and forest activities are the main man-made causes behind the landslides. Natural causes like heavy rainfall, effects of earthquake and climate change are also to blame. Without addressing the man-made causes, it would be impossible to prevent disasters like the landslides that left 11people dead. To do this coordination among the relevant agencies to address the matter must be established.
So political commitment is a must to ensure that man made causes don't exist. Trees must be planted adequately. A storm water drainage system is necessary in the region to ease water flow beside roads. Eviction of vulnerable human colonies from the hilly areas to avert loss of lives in landslides is another need, but those evicted must be rehabilitated properly.
But the government must also take adequate post disaster steps. They must properly equip the fire service and civil defense for rescue operations in the region. Construction of more shelters in the three hilly districts -- Rangamati, Bandarban and Chattogram, is also a must to handle post disaster scenarios.