Natural balance in Sajek being destroyed by security forces

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Hill Voice, 20 May 2020, Rangamati:  It has been alleged that Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is destroying the natural balance as a result of application of pesticides in streams and rivers in different areas of Sajek Union in Baghaichhari upazila of Rangamati district.

As a result, the fish and crabs are being destroyed and the villagers are facing shortage of drinking water.

It is worthy to be mentioned that Sajek Union is one of the remote areas in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). This union bordering Mizoram in India is also the largest union in Bangladesh.

Surrounded by high and low hills, the only source of livelihood for the indigenous Jumma people of this region is Jum farming (shifting cultivation). The only source of drinking water for the Jumma villagers living in the hills is the small streams or rivers. The endless fish and crabs of stream and river are also the main source of meat.

Moreover, different types of wild animals depend on small streams to survive. Indigenous people of the hills have been protecting these resources for ages. They have been living without harming nature.

But BGB have been disturbing the natural balance in different areas of Sajek. Fish and crabs in the streams are being destroyed freely by applying pesticides on small streams and rivers.

On the one hand, the villagers are suffering from lack of drinking water, on the other hand, nature is being threatened.

The villagers of Lonkor and Gandachhara (Tin Dojori) of Sajek are complaining that no fish and crabs are available now due to the application of pesticides in the small streams and rivers.

These simple-living indigenous people who are deprived of education, medical treatment and various civic amenities, are not doing any kind of protest, so such heinous acts of the government forces are being kept hidden from the public eye.

Such heinous acts have been strongly condemned by the residents of Lonkor and Gandachhara (Tin Dojari) areas. They demanded an immediate end to such heinous activities by the border guards.

Indigenous people in the area also say that since the establishment of tourist spots in the heart of forests under the control of the army a few years ago, the forest resources and biodiversity in the Sajek area have been severely affected.

The establishment of tourist centers have resulted in the threat of eviction of the indigenous people and the adverse social, cultural and economic impact on their livelihood. Their livelihoods are being endangered as the land of Jum farming is shrinking.

The recent under-construction of link road from the Sajek tourist area to Kamalak on the Indian border and the initiative for construction of a dam at Sijokchhara in Sajek have caused to damages of more than thousand acres of land, gardens and farms for hundreds of indigenous families.

There is no one to protest against these so-called development programs which are destroying the existence, culture and livelihood of local indigenous people as well as the forest and biodiversity. Therefore, these anti-people programs are being implemented at a fast pace behind the news media.

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