The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, which ended the decades-long conflict between the Bangladeshi armed forces and Shanti Bahini, was signed in December 1997.
One of the major conditions of the historic peace deal inked between the Bangladeshi government and Jana Sanghati Samiti was to develop the three hill districts -- Khagrachhari, Bandarban and Rangamati -- as tourism hubs. More than 23 years on, this condition still remains unfulfilled -- as vested interests are apparently obstructing its implementation.
In fact, as part of the move to develop the region, construction work on a proposed five-star resort, 'Marriott Hotel and Amusement Park', in Chandra Pahar — formerly the Naitong hung (hill) — in Bandarban’s Chimbuk area has started. But UNB has learnt that some groups are trying to derail the project by spreading rumours on social media.
In 2015, the Bandarban Hill District Council (BHDC) gave on lease some 20 acres of land in Chandra Pahar for the resort project, and a temporary check post was also set up that year only to ensure security in the area.
While the Chandra Pahar resort project has been conceptualised keeping in mind the environmental factors, few local groups -- JSS(M) and PCP (Pahari Chhatra Parishad) -- claim that around 800-1,000 acres of land will eventually be grabbed for its construction. And this could, in turn, displace over 10,000 residents of nearby villages.
From taking to social media to holding periodic protest rallies, these groups have been misleading local residents since construction of the five-star facility began in June 2020, after approval of the project's layout by the government.
However, a reality check by UNB has revealed that the area closest to the project site is Dholapara, some 1.3 km (aerial distance) away.
Project manager Sirajul Islam said that the distance from the resort site to Kalaipara and Erapara of Mro community is 5km, and that of Kaprupara and Dolapara is 3.5km and 2.5km, respectively. "So there will be no acquisition of land belonging to the local ethnic groups or any loss to their villages," he said.
The vested groups have also spread rumours that local farmers will lose jhum cultivable land due to the project. "This is absolutely not correct. They can very well continue with jhum (or shifting) cultivation," Sirajul said. Besides, BHDC has allotted nearly three acres of land to each Mro family for cultivating mixed fruits.