THE environmental atrocity of hill cutting not only divests the scenic splendour of nature but also affects the environment and sustainability of human habitation on and around those. Hill cutting is also believed to be a factor in causing landslide dealing severe blows to those who are affected. The most devastating landslide occurred in Chittagong in 2007, and cost some 130 lives. About 54 and 17 people also lost their lives in 2010 and 2011 in similar disasters. Hill cutting continues unabated for decades defying laws. Unscrupulous elements driven by thoughts of making quick money are engaged in this.
Police caught red-handed eight-day labourers recently for cutting a hill in Khagrachhari. However, the godfathers who engaged them are still evading the process of law. Most of the hills of Bangladesh are not rock hills rather they are mainly mud hills. Exposure of cut part of hills to downpour creates conditions for landslide a formidable threat for the inhabitants living near hills. Some one-lakh people are exposed to land- slides in five hill districts of the country, a recent study revealed. A few cases have been lodged in this connection. But the number of people arrested on charge of hill cutting is also not worth mentioning.
It is frustrating to note that a Chinese company has been fined Taka 1.05 million for cutting a hill in Mirsarai upazila in Chittagong in a recent instance. The company is connected with implementation of the four-lane Dhaka-Chittagong highway project. The High Court on the 19th of March this year directed the government to stop all kinds of hill cutting in five hill districts like Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari. The DoE has proved a failure to stop hill cutting. A much stricter law is needed for this, experts have opined.