An inspector of the district Department of Environment said he was aware of the illegal hill cutting and would soon take action against it
Allegations about illegal hill razing have surfaced against the chairman of Thanchi upazila council in Bandarban.
Thoai Hla Mong Marma, also the upazila Awami League president, has been levelling hills on his land to build a house.
According to local sources, Thoai Hla owns about five acres of hilly terrain in the union council area adjacent to the road from Thanchi bus stand to Amtali.
There, two excavators have been seen working day and night for the past couple of weeks, levelling most of the terrain.
Angthui Marma, a resident of Thanchi, said if a people's representative razes hills in this manner, the common man would not hesitate to do the same, causing irreversible environmental damage.
Under the Environment Conservation (Amendment) Act 2010, hill cutting is a cognizable offence and no government, semi-government or autonomous organization is allowed to cut or raze hills without prior permission from the authorities concerned.
Under the terms of the Building Construction Rules 1996, clearance certificates must be obtained from the Department of Environment for razing or cutting any hill.
According to urban planners, hills are mainly razed for building construction, developing residential areas and road networks.
However, without informing the authorities, the hills are being cut down at will in various Bandarban upazilas.
Speaking to Dhaka Tribune, Thanchi Upazila Chairman Thoai Hla Mong Marma, said: “The upazila is defined by high and low hilly terrain. Therefore, we frequently need to cut hills and level the terrain in order build homes here.”
Meanwhile, he denied the allegations of having levelled the hills on his land and said, being a public figure, he had enemies on his back who were trying to frame him.
Contracted, Abdus Salam, an inspector of the district Department of Environment, said he was aware of the illegal hill cutting in the union council area adjacent to the road from Thanchi bus stand to Amtali.
“I will visit the spot on Sunday and take action against the illegal hill cutting as the accused has not obtained a clearance from the department of environment in this regard,” he added.