Lakes of dominants by submerging protected forests, fish farming

Lakes of dominants by submerging protected forests, fish farming

Read Time:8 Minute, 35 Second

In Chittagong, local influential people created an artificial lake by submerging nearly two and a half thousand acres of forest land in a forest. Fish farming is being done in that lake.

The forest is in the border area of Barahatia of Lohagara Upazila of Chittagong and Sonakania Union of Satkania Upazila. It is known as Barahatia forest. One part of this forest is protected, another part is protected.

It is far from making a lake in the protected forest, entry there is prohibited. And protected forest can be entered subject to permission. The Barahatia forest area where the lake has been constructed falls under both the protected and reserved sections.

The lake is created by damming a forest called Sonakania. The length of the dam is about 200 feet. Width 20 feet and height 100 feet.

We have tried everything within our power to break the dam. But the people associated with the dam were not successful because they were influential. After getting the truth in the investigation after the complaint, the concerned bit officer prepared the case. But due to the intervention of the then MP, the case was not filed.
Delwar Hossain, Assistant Conservator of Forests, Chittagong South Forest Division
The forest department says that due to the construction of the lake, about five lakh trees of various species including gamari, teak, chikarashi, arjuna have died. There was a passageway for wild elephants in the sunken area. Various wild animals and species of animals including jackals, jackals, wild boars, peacocks, peacocks, guisaps, pythons lived there.

Forest Department and Upazila Agriculture Office said that the construction of the mud dam started in January 2021. It ended in March of that year. Fish farming has been going on since then. Farmers say that due to the construction of the dam, the rhyme has stopped. This is disrupting the cultivation of 4 thousand 255 acres of land in Lohagara and Satkania. The farmers complained about the matter to various government departments from the beginning, but the administration did not take action.

However, the Forest Department claims that the legal process was started after the investigation found the allegations to be true, but it was stopped due to the former local Member of Parliament (Chittagong-15) Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin Nadvi.

The farmers alleged that the people involved in the construction of the dam and the lake are connected with the politics of the ruling party. They are close to Nezamuddin Nadvi’s private secretary and Zilla Parishad member Erfanul Karim.

Shamsul Alam, President of Sonaichari Rhama Water Management Cooperative Society, told Prothom Alo, “We have filed a complaint against 17 people. However, starting from the construction of the dam, the lake was managed by two people—Md. Nashir Uddin and Manjur Alam. Since they are close to the former MP, no one has dared to do anything for so long.

The forest department says that due to the construction of the lake, about five lakh trees of various species including gamari, teak, chikarashi, arjuna have died. There was a passageway for wild elephants in the sunken area. Various wild animals and species of animals including jackals, jackals, wild boars, peacocks, peacocks, guisaps, pythons lived there.

One day on the ground
The information given in the annual report of the Forest Department (2022-23) says that the protected forests of Chittagong region were declared protected during the British rule. The country now has about 33 lakh 11 thousand acres of reserved and 11 lakh 73 thousand acres of protected forest, including Barahatia forest.

Chunti Bazar is seven kilometers south of Chittagong-Cox’s Bazar highway from Lohagara Upazila Sadar of Chittagong. From there, after walking six kilometers of paved road, three kilometers of rural roads and one kilometer of plain and hilly paths, the artificial lake is found. It is named as ‘Natural Lake’.

A tin house next to the lake was seen on the surface last Thursday. But no one was found. Water has decreased in winter season. Due to this, dead tree branches are seen in the lake. Several mountains have been cut around the lake, the sign is clear.

Residents of the area around the forest said that the lake has a water depth of 45 feet during the dry season. But in monsoons the depth increases to about 60 feet. There is commercial fish farming. In exchange for buying a regular ticket to the lake, fishing with a fishing rod is offered. Three to four thousand rupees are taken from each person. There are two boats available for rent to tourists. It was seen that the boat was tied to two piers.

According to local sources, the people involved in the creation of the lake are mainly going ahead with plans to make a big tourist center there.

The pattern originates from a mountain spring named Pirilia in Barahatia forest of Lohagara, about five kilometers south-west of where the dam has been constructed in the area bordering Sonakania Union of Satkania. As a result, dams formed lakes at the foot of the hills, where there were thick forests. The stream flows 12 km northeast of the dam and joins the Dolu River in Satkania.
Who is involved?
In the 12th National Parliament election (voting held on January 7), the independent candidate, Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin Nadvi, lost to Awami League leader Abdul Motaleb. Five days later, on January 12, local farmers tried to cut the dam. Then the issue comes up.

According to the investigation, a person named Zainal Abedin complained to the divisional forest officer about the creation of a lake in the forest in February last year. Assistant Forest Conservator of Chittagong South Forest Division (Padua) was assigned to investigate the complaint. Delwar Hossain. He submitted the report on March 12 last year after the on-site investigation.

Nashir Uddin told Prothom Alo on January 29, “We gave 60 members of the dam for fishing and agriculture. The then Lohagara Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) and Upazila Agriculture Officer gave us the certificate. We have submitted a written application to the Ministry of Forests and Environment for approval of the dam, which is also under process.

Then contacted last Thursday night and asked about the certificate, Nashir Uddin said that he is not involved in the creation of the lake.

The then agriculture officer of Lohagara, Monirul Islam (currently working at Naogaon Sadar) was contacted to find out whether the agriculture department had issued any certificate for the creation of the lake. He told Prothom Alo that no certificate was given to anyone for the construction of the dam.

Ahsan Habib, who served as Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) in Lohagara at that time, also stated that Nashir Uddin’s claim was false.

Lohagara Upazila Land Office informed that most of the land in the area where the artificial lake has been constructed belongs to the Forest Department. Some land Khas. Lohagara Assistant Commissioner (Land) Nazmun Lael told Prothom Alo in his office last Thursday afternoon that no one has applied for settlement of this Khas land.

Meanwhile, when contacted, Manjur Alam, who was named in the investigation of the Forest Department, told Prothom Alo that Nashir Uddin and Erfanul Karim (Private Secretary of former Member of Parliament) created a lake in the forest with a dam.

When Erfanul Karim was asked about the matter, he denied Manzoor’s complaint.
The case was not filed due to the intervention of the former member of parliament
Delwar Hossain, Assistant Forest Conservator of Chittagong South Forest Division, told Prothom Alo, “We have tried everything within our capacity to break the dam. But the people associated with the dam were not successful because they were influential. After getting the truth in the investigation after the complaint, the concerned bit officer prepared the case. But due to the intervention of the then MP, the case was not filed.

The outgoing MP Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin Nadvi denied the allegations of the forest department. He told Prothom Alo, “I have nothing to do with them (dam construction). I don’t know anyone. I only visited once a few years ago.

Assistant Conservator of Forests Delwar Hossain was asked how the former MP stood in the way. He told Prothom Alo that the former member of parliament called the officials of the forest department once to the upazila parishad and another time on the phone and asked them not to take any action in this regard. No further legal action was taken at that time due to the environmental situation.

Meanwhile, the former member of parliament is involved in the creation of forest lake. Although they claimed not to know Nashir Uddin and Manjur Alam, they were active in campaigning for him (Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin Nadvi) in this parliamentary election. They were present in various programs. The two of them posted several pictures taken with Erfanul Karim, private secretary of the former member of parliament, on social media Facebook.

According to local sources, Nashir Uddin and Manjur Alam are close to the private secretary of the former MP Erfanul and Abu Reza Muhammad Nezamuddin Nadvir is an employee. Nezamuddin Nadvi also visited the lake in March 2022 with his people. Lunch is also organized for them.

Meanwhile, the local upazila administration and environment department do not know about the creation of a lake in the reserved forest. The current UNO Mu of Lohagara. Inamul Hashan Prothom Alo, ‘I do not know the case of lake construction by occupying the forest area. If such an incident occurs, necessary action will be taken in public interest.

The Deputy Director of Chittagong District of the Department of Environment. Ferdous Anwar told Prothom Alo that measures will be taken after investigating the construction of the dam by damaging the environment.

“Can’t imagine”
Forest researchers say that the creation of lakes in the forest should not be unknown to anyone. They all knew. But did not take action. Now strict action should be taken against those involved in the creation of the lake. The flow of water should be normalized by cutting the fast-flowing dam.

Forest researcher and retired professor of Chittagong University. Kamal Hossain told Prothom Alo that the way a lake has been created in the place of forest and mountains is unimaginable.

According to the prothomalo

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