Hill Voice, 12 September 2020, CHT: SA TV’s investigative report has revealed that bamboo project worth Tk. 25 crore of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board (CHTDB) has been leaked. Although 4 years have already passed since the 5-year project start, SA TV’s investigation has revealed that there is no sign of bamboo plantation in the project area. The army, the intelligence agency DGFI, the administration, the ruling Awami League are vocal against the extortion of the Jumma political parties in the CHT, but they are completely silent against such mega corruption in government projects.
The SA TV investigation report on the CHTDB’s five-year bamboo project worth Tk 25 crore has said-
“In order to make the farmers self-reliant in 26 upazilas of the CHT, the implementation of high quality bamboo sapling projects is in full swing but the project does not exist in most of the areas. The five-year project started in 2016 at a cost of Tk 25 crore. In the last 4 years, local representatives and residents of hilly areas have not seen the officials and employees of the project. There are allegations that the whole money is being looted by showing that the wild bamboo garden of the hill is included in the project. The project director did not agree to speak to SA TV about this project. However, Vice Chairman of the CHTDB claims that it will take time to become visible.
According to the website of the CHTDB, a project called Improved Quality Bamboo Cultivation is underway in the three hill districts to bring a large section of the backward people living in the remote hills into the mainstream of development. Under this project, the project implementing institution (CHTDB) will build 13,000 separate plantation per acre of land. Each plantation will be owned by a farming family.
As such, at least 13,000 farming families will be the beneficiaries of this project. At the same time, the project also aims to build 260 bamboo-based small cottage industries by creating entrepreneurs locally. Four years of the five-year project have passed three months ago but it is not yet visible anywhere. A significant area of the project is Kaukali Upazila in Rangamati district. Several large bamboo gardens can be seen here. But the owners of the gardens said that they have inherited these gardens from generation to generation, it has nothing to do with the project. Besides, they have never seen any official of the development board.
Kaukhali Upazila Chairman Shamsuddoha Chowdhury was the first to hear from reporters that such a big project was being implemented in his area for four years.
Project Director Harun-ur-Rashid could not be found in the office when the reporter went to the CHT Development Board to seek an official statement on the matter. He tried to know the statement on the phone but could not be found. However, Nurul Alam Nizami, the newly joined Vice Chairman of Board, said the project director had informed him that the planted bamboo saplings had not yet grown. So, it will not be visible for a while.
About ninety percent of the three hill districts are surrounded by hills and forests. The Kachalong, Reingkshyong, Sangu, Matamuhuri rivers and other hilly areas have been producing a lot of bamboo naturally since time immemorial. These naturally formed bamboo orchards have been included in the project and looted.