They request the authorities to arrange a meeting for exchange of views in this regard
Members of civil society have sent letters to the authorities calling for a halt to the construction of a five-star hotel and tourist spot in Chimbuk Hill area in Bandarban by R&R Holdings Limited, a concern of the Sikder Group.
A statement, issued in this regard on Thursday, was signed by prominent civil society members, including Prof Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury of Dhaka University, rights activist Sultana Kamal, Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir, economist Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury and many others.
The letters were sent to the minister responsible for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, chief of Army Staff, and secretaries of the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs and Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
Additionally, another letter was sent to the authorities of the hotel chain Marriott International, asking them to withdraw their involvement in the project.
The civil society members said the construction of the hotel had caused a forcible hindrance to the livelihoods of Mro people.
In the letter, it was alleged that the hotel was being constructed without the prior consent of the Mro community as there had been attempts at propaganda by intimidating the locals and circulating fake statements that the Mro people had agreed for the hotel to be set up on their land.
The five-star tourism project will reportedly include a Marriott hotel and will require an extensive network of buildings, roads, drainage and sewage system which will pollute and harm biodiversity in the area. Some 10,000 people will be at risk of eviction due to the construction.
However, on January 19, 2020, the vice president of Marriott International stated that the firm’s involvement in the project was not final and asked that its name and brand not be used in the project, the statement read.
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The civil society members said it was a matter of great regret that the Bangladesh Army, a glorious symbol of the nation’s pride and confidence, had partnered in a project with the Sikder Group, which was notorious for grabbing rivers and other heinous activities.
The signatories asked the Bangladesh Army to cancel its partnership with the Sikder Group in order to protect the ecological balance of Bandarban.
They also requested the authorities to arrange a meeting with civil society members for an exchange of views in this regard.