Declaration of Wildlife Sanctuary in Baghaichari Jumma area: Memorandum for cancellation

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Hill Voice, 24 July 2023, Rangamati: The local Jumma residents of Ward No.6, 7 and 8 in No.30 Sarwatuli union and No.391 Churakhali Mouza in Baghaichari upazila under Rangamati District, have protested against the announcement of a wildlife sanctuary project (game sanctuary) in their area and submitted a memorandum to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council demanding the cancellation of the project.

The memorandum mentions, once the project is implemented the people will face huge losses including eviction from their homesteads and destruction of plantations.

On July 19, 2023, the Headman and the karbaris of No.391 Churakhali Mouza submitted the memorandum to the Chairman of Regional Council in Rangamati on behalf of the residents.

The headman and the karbaris signed the memorandum are Kiran Bikash Chakma (Headman Representative, No.391 Churakhali Mouza), Suprasad Chakma (karbari), Milan Chakma (karbari), Amulyasen Chakma (karbari), Pramod Chakma (karbari), Nayan Tara Chakma (karbari), Shantashila Chakma (karbari), Mrina Chakma (karbari), Nitimoy Chakma (karbari), Champa Chakma (karbari), Kamal Ketan Chakma (karbari), Dhana Chakma (karbari), Antti Chakma (karbari), Abhijit Chakma karbari).

The memorandum mentions, “On the basis of Hon’ble Deputy Commissioner, Rangamati Hill District Memorandum No-31.42,8400.226.19.032.14-755 dated 27/5/2014 AD: by deforesting the area, in order to take necessary measures for the formation of new Mouza, after the creation of 390 Kalapakujya Mouza under Longudu upazila, the newly formed Mouza number will be 391 Churakhali Mouza.”

It further mentions, “Sir, we have learnt from reliable sources that a total area of 42 thousand 87 hectares belonging to Baghaichari and Longadu Upazilas of Rangamati Hill District was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1962 in the south-eastern part of Kachalong Reserve. It is very sad that on September 29, 1983, under the notification no. xiii for-1/83/682 of the Ministry of Agriculture of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Pablakhali (Game Sanctuary) Wildlife Sanctuary was unilaterally declared without taking any opinion from the local residents of the concerned Mouza. After the passage of many years, workshops (meetings) were held in the forest office conference hall and Zilla Parishad conference hall in Rangamati in the presence of dignitaries of the concerned mouzas on last 14/06/2022 and 14/06/2023. The prominent people of the area present in the meeting made their strong opposition and expressed dissatisfaction over the announcement of the wildlife sanctuary project as there is a possibility of serious damage to the local people if the project is implemented in the area.”

The memorandum states the losses will be incurred by the Jumma people once the said project is implemented are:

  1.  If the project is implemented, thousands of families living there for ages will be evicted from the dwelling place, while the livelihood of the Jumma people will be hampered as there will be no habitable environment in the area.
  2.  Moreover, due to the expropriation of the land by the Bengali settlers brought from the plains in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the local dwellers are in an endless misery.
  3.  Moreover, because of the Kaptai Dam in 1960, the Jumma residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts had to be evicted from their respective recorded lands and the lands on their possession.
  4.  For ages, through tireless work and investing money, we have cultivated various kinds of environment-friendly fruit, forest and medicinal plants on our possessed lands and, and besides, we have been supporting our family making the uncultivated fringe land cultivable.
  5.  It is noteworthy that once the scheme planned under the Forest Department will cause incalculable harm to the people living in the area. It will be equal damage done to the local Jummas as a result of the Kaptai Dam in 1960.”

The memorandum further states, “for the socio-economic development of the working people in Bangladesh, it is said not to leave even 1 inch of cultivable and uncultivable land empty as announced by the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, the worthy daughter of the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which is repeatedly made publicity through various electronic media.

So in the light of the honorable Prime Minister’s announcement, as the said Mouza is the only home of the local ordinary people, in the interest of protecting environment-friendly creative and income-generating diversified fruit, forest and medicinal plant plantation as well as public and private educational institutions, community clinics, religious institutions in the area; we would like to make sincere request to you to cancel the wildlife sanctuary (game sanctuary) project taken in the name of development for devastating the area and take the necessary measures to approve Churakhali Mouza No.391.”