Hill Voice, 29 May 2020, Bandarban: The 16 Construction Battalion (18 ECB) of the Bangladesh Army is working on the construction of Alikadam-Kurukpata-Poyamuhuri road from Alikadam Upazila in Bandarban.
It is alleged that this 23 kilometers long road, which is undertaken for construction with an aimed to strengthen security in addition to improve communication system in the area, will affect 60 families of Mro, Tripura and Marma communities in 13 indigenous Jumma villages in Kurukpata union of Alikadam upazila.
According to special sources, in May 2017, ECNEC approved Tk 374 crore (37.4 million) for the construction of the road. The task was assigned to the Army Construction Engineer Battalion (16 ECB) to carry out the work. The financial allocation also includes 20,600 tree plantations and research, training and development sectors in this project.
The main works of the project are cutting 8 lakh 7 thousand cubic meters of soil, 12 RCC girder bridges, 11 culverts, 100-meter water dam (2/3), construction of 919-meter (12) RCC bridges, 72-meter (11) RCC box culverts construction, construction of 48.3 km side drains, construction of 131.64-meter 55 cross drains, construction of 1,854-meter retaining wall & breast wall, 95-meter bolta palasiding etc.
If the project is implemented, the security of the area will be strengthened along with the development of communication system. Besides, the project documents state that the upazila headquarters will be connected with the Kurukpata Union in Alikadam Upazila and will play a role in marketing the agricultural and Jum (shifting cultivation) products produced by the local Mro & Tripura indigenous people.
The construction of this road will affect 60 families in 13 villages under Kurukpata Union. Among them, the houses of 39 families will be evicted, the gardens of 26 families and the Jum farmland of 3 families will be damaged.
Even after the eviction, 39 families have to leave their homesteads and move elsewhere. Out of 60 families, 45 families belong to Mro community, 23 families belong to Tripura community and 2 families belong to Marma community.
Among the 60 families, damage to gardens of 4 families (2 Tripura and 2 Marma families) of Kratpung Mro Chairman Kurukpara; eviction of 6 Mro families in Menpat Para of Karukpara Bazar; damage to the garden of 1 Mro family and Jum farmland of 2 Mro Pabir in Buchichhara Mettala Para; damage to 1 Mro family garden in Chhota Beti Kharchang Para; damage to the garden of 1 Mro family in Dukhkha Para; damage to the garden of the 9 Mro family in Bara Beti Yungri Para; damage of Jum farmland of 3 Mro family in Darialeng Para; damage to the garden of 4 Mro family in Janali Para; damage to the garden of 6 Mro families in Meringchar Kenk Para; eviction of 3 Tripura families with loss of garden of 1 family in Sathiram Tripura Para; eviction of houses and relocation of 18 Tripura families in Jira Para, including loss of two families’ gardens; eviction of 8 families in Mennik Mro Para; And in Mendan Para, damage to the garden of 4 Mro families including eviction of houses of 2 families in Mendon Para will be taken place.
Local sources further said that thousands of Jum land and mouza land, including the recorded lands of Indigenous Jumma people in various unions of in Alikadam have already been leased out to non-local political leaders, government bureaucrats, military officials, businessmen and influential people.
As a result, hundreds of families of indigenous Mro, Tripura and Marma people have had to leave their homesteads and ancestral lands. Many villages have also been abandoned due to continuous harassment and attack on indigenous villagers by leaseholders.
As a result, livelihood of indigenous villagers has fallen in danger. A Mro villager, who did not want to be named, expressed his displeasure as they were facing more losses due to the construction of Alikadam-Kurukpata-Poyamuhuri road.
It has been seen on the spot that there are three bazaars, mosques, temples, churches, Buddhist temples and schools in Janalipara, Kurukpata and Poyamuhuri areas. But due to the lack of road connectivity, the Matamuhuri River was the only means of communication for the people of these areas, including transportation of daily necessities and agricultural products. But due to the loss of navigability of the river, the only way of communication is under threat day by day.
According to special sources, 25 percent work of the road has already been completed. Due to the hilly roads, it is not possible to work in the monsoon season. Due to which the work of the project is being disrupted a bit. Besides, as the area is inaccessible, the cost of transporting construction materials is much higher.