Army reluctant to compensate villagers affected by border link road despite the assurance given in Baghaichhari


Hill Voice, 24 February 2024, Rangamati: An army official said that no compensation would be given to the Jumma families affected by the border link road construction by the army in Baghaichari despite repeated assurances in face of agitation and demand for compensation. It is reported that the army’s announcement has caused widespread despair and anger among the affected people. The villagers considered such behaviour of the army as harassment and violation of their rights.

Local sources said, on February 21, 2024, project officer of the road BA-10069 Major Md Shamim Sarkar told this calling three persons among the victims and local UP members at the Kachuichari army camp. It was also reported that the army officer even terms the compensation demand as fraudulent one.

The three representatives of the affected families were- Priya Bikash Chakma, a member of Ward No. 5 of Baghaichari union, Sugata Chakma, a member of Ward No. 1 of Sarwatuli union and Nirupam Chakma, former member of Ward No. 8 of Baghaichari union.

It is learnt that 222 Jumma families have been faced heavy losses for the under-construction work of about 14 km long and 30 feet wide connecting road from Kajoichari Mukh to Majhipara under Baghaichari upazila by the army. It destroyed and damaged the houses, shops and many valuable teak trees, agar plants and various fruit plantations of the villagers. The affected villagers staged demonstrations, processions and rallies against the project as it was started without their consent and affected them. Besides, they demanded proper compensation to the army, BGB and upazila administration concerned.

The villagers said, in response to their movement and demand, the army asked for a list of the victims along with the amount of damage. The villagers submitted an application to a Warrant Officer of the Army on September 11, 2022 demanding compensation along with a list of victims. Several times, the villagers contacted with the army but every time the victims were said there was no allocation yet. Almost a year passed in this way.

But the last project officer BA-10069 Major Md Shamim Sarkar said that no compensation would be given to the affected villagers. Major Md Shamim Sarkar also said that their (villagers) lists and paper documents of damage were fake, so no compensation would be given. Major Md. Shamim’s words has caused extreme despair and anger among the people, said several villagers.

It is to be noted that on July 31, 2022, at 10:00 am, the Zone Commander of 27 BGB Marishya Zone, Lt. Col. Md. Shariful Abed (SGP) personally came and inaugurated the construction of this 18 km long border road from Arjapur shop to Majhi Para in Ugalchari area of Baghaichari.
Meanwhile, at least 56 Jumma villagers have faced heavy losses for the road construction of about 4 kilometres from Arjapur shop in Ugalchari area to Kajoichari. In face of repeated agitation, although their compensation demands have been partially accepted, so far they have not been compensated according to the given promises and damages, said a local elderly person requesting not to be named.

On the other hand, another 222 families were given no compensation, moreover, they were said no compensation would be given.

It should be noted that this road is reportedly being constructed under the Border Road (Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban Hill Districts) construction project. As per the project papers, the road is 317 km long. Reportedly, this road is a part of the border road construction project.