Hillocks, forests in Ruma face onslaught of AL leader

The environment and natural resources in ecologically sensitive forested areas of Ruma upazila continue to be plundered for personal gains.

Hills and forests in remote Romana Para, within five kilometres of Keokradong hill, are facing onslaught of a brick manufacturer who started uprooting trees and razing hillocks to set up a brick kiln there about a month ago.

Jumlian Amlai, president of Bandarban chapter of Parbatya Chattogram Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement, said biodiversity of the area will be affected severely if the brick kiln — set up in dense forest within five kilometres of Keokradong hill — is allowed to continue its operations. 

Unless the administration takes stern action to shut down the kiln immediately, “it will cause grave damage to the ‘village common forest (VCF)’ and ‘unclassified state forest (USF)’ in the area,” he added.

Echoing the same sentiment, Ruma Upazila Parishad Vice-chairman Thang Kham Lian Bawm said, “The brick kiln will deal a severe blow to the environment of the area.”

Contacted over phone, Mohammad Milon, the brick kiln’s owner and also the president of Awami League’s Ward 3 unit under Bandarban municipality, claimed, “The kiln will not have any negative impact on the environment of the area.”

Without elaborating his claim any further, Milon hung up the phone.

Jewel Bawm, a leader of the Bawm community in the area and also a member of Bandarban Hill District Council, said they have been extending cooperation to Milon in operating the kiln to ensure continuation of various development works of the government in the area.

Contacted, Ruma Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Yamin Hossain said, “I had no knowledge of a brick kiln set up in the remote area of Ruma.”

Before a brick kiln is officially approved in Bandarban, a team, headed by the deputy commissioner and accompanied by the UNO of the upazila concerned, pays a visit to the site of the proposed brick kiln.

Since he never visited Romana Para as part of any such team, the brick kiln has to be illegal, the UNO of Ruma said, adding that he would make necessary inquiries into the allegation soon and take legal action accordingly.