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16 March, 2021 08:08:54 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 16 March, 2021 04:54:14 PM


Concern over spreading propaganda in hills to thwart development

DEEPAK ACHARJEE, Back from Lama Upazila in Bandarban
Concern over spreading propaganda in hills to thwart development

A vested quarter is reportedly out to spread propaganda through social media against a tourism project in Bandarban’s Lama as part of a conspiracy to stop construction work of development projects in hilly areas permanently.

The vested quarter is also providing required fund to people in the hills, especially the Mru community, to stage rallies and demonstrations against the development project titled ‘Marriott Hotel and Amusement Park’, observed local people.

When The Independent correspondent visited the area, local people informed that some leaders of local political parties, especially the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samity (Santu Larma) were pushing local people, especially the Mru community, to organise innocent people by staging protests opposing the construction of the international-standard tourist hotel and resort.

But, people of Chandrapahar area in Lama upazila have asked the authorities concerned to take steps to provide required land to local people for jhum cultivation as they cannot do so following the tourism project’s construction here.

May Hla Sing, a student of Bandarban Government College, who is also a local of Kaprupara area, informed this correspondent that some people in Bandarban town were trying to organise demonstration and rally through social media like Facebook while also spreading propaganda against the development project.

“Some of my Facebook friends urged me to attend the rally and I joined. They said the government took lease of 200 acres of hilly land in Chandrapahar.

And that’s why, we have to resist it unitedly. But as I approached an uncle, who is working in Bandarban Hill District Council, he said the authorities concerned took lease of only 20 acres of land, not 200 acres and then I disagreed to attend any procession or rally further,” she claimed.

May Hla Sing believed that she and her relatives would get job in the tourism project in near future.

“Some of my friends asked me to join rallies and processions in future on the issue. If I disagree or fail to join rallies in future, they can attack my family members,” she claimed and added that they needed protection from the local administration.

Mandan Mru, a member of Ansar VDP in Lama, said local people are happy about constructing the development work as he believed that the authorities will recruit from among the locals.

“At the same time, our people can sell more locally produced fruits to the tourists upon construction of the international hotel in the area,” he observed.

He wishes to open a small shop to sell local fruits to the tourists in future.

“People of Kaprupara and Dolapara, located one and a half and two kilometers off the hotel site respectively, are dependent on jhum cultivation in hilly areas. It would be impossible to continue jhum cultivation after constructing the hotel. And that’s why, the authorities concerned should take steps to provide the locals with required support for their better survival,” he noted.

Young Lok Mru, a jobless in Kalaipara, said he needs a job or small business for survival of his family as he cannot continue jhum cultivation in the area due to the development project.

He, however, hoped that the Marriott authorities would recruit local people as staff in different trades of the hotel to help them have employment as many from among their community remain jobless and underprivileged.

This correspondent also talked to a number of villagers, including Mom Mru, a housewife living in Dolapara.

She informed that there was no human inhabitation in the nearby 2.5 kilometres of the tourism peoject area in Chandrapahar as the place remained abandoned for years.

But some people of Lama Upazila in connivance with some leaders of local political groups have been spreading propaganda opposing the construction work with an ill motive to establish supremacy and conduct various illegal activities like extortion in the areas, she alleged.

Sirajul Islam, general secretary of Bandarban Hotel Owners’ Association, told The Independent that there were at least 29 hotels and resorts operating in the district. Of those, no hotel including the Sairo Resort is of international standard.

“After opening the Nilgiri Tourist Spot, hundreds of tourists are vising the areas and they often wish to stay in the area over the night. But they cannot stay there over the night for short of accommodation,” he observed.

“The authorities should construct hotels and resorts in Nilgiri areas for the betterment of tourists there,” he suggested.

Sirajul Islam said the tourist project, once implemented, will be one of the best tourist attractions in the country.

Kyaw Shwe Hla, Chairman of the Bandarban Hill District Council, said several quarters including some local political groups have become active against the project for their illicit political gain.

"The government should identify the culprits and punish them for hatching conspiracy,” he said.

“It’s known as to who were doing this. The same quarter has been opposing the development schemes in the CHT areas. They don’t want peace,” he added.

“No one raised any opposition when Sairo Resort was constructed few years ago, but why are they opposing the tourism project in Chandrapahar now,” he posed a question.

Asked, a senior army officer stationed in Bandarban region said a local private company - R&R Holding in cooperation with the Army Welfare Trust is constructing the tourism spot and resort in the area under a joint venture arrangement.

“As part of boosting the country’s tourism, authorities concerned have taken a lease of 20 acres of land from the Bandarban Hill District Council with a view to heightening infrastructural development in the area,” he informed.

“It,” he added, “will be possible to recruit at least 250 employees for the hotel.”

“Vested quarters and interested groups are now trying to raise voice against the development work since the beginning of construction in October last,” he informed.

A signboard with a graphical presentation of the hotel and resort under construction can be seen now from afar. The site is on the Chimbuk-Thanchi route and 47 kilometres southeast off Bandarban district town.

According to projection, the tourism spot is expected to open for tourists by September 2025.






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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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