Disaster Management and Relief Minister Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya said that the people living in the foothills of Chattogram are going to be evacuated without delay to avert landslide-related casualties.
The minister made the announcement while addressing a workshop on raising awareness about landslide, and taking precautionary measures, at Chattogram Circuit House on Sunday.
He requested everyone present to inform people about the dangers of landslide as much as they could.
"Please, talk to them about moving to safer places," said Maya. "Evacuate the people at risk of landslide as soon as it is possible."
While addressing the workshop as the chief guest, the minister also regretted the fact that the people who are responsible are not performing their duties properly.
"It is because of their negligence to duty that 166 people died from landslide last year," said the minister. "Landslides are taking place because of our callousness. The loss of lives could have been avoided if we were conscious enough to evacuate those living in the foothills.
"It is only a matter of six hours to evacuate the 684 families who are living vulnerably in the foothills of Chattogram city," stressed the minister. "We should sever the utility connections to vulnerable hills. People will be forced to move to safer places if the electricity is suspended for three days."
Secretary of Disaster Management and Relief Ministry Shah Kamal directed city corporation authorities to take the lead in evacuating those under grave risk of landslides by May 15.
"No one will be living vulnerably in the foothills after May 15," said Kamal. "Those responsible will be held accountable if everyone is not evacuated within the deadline."
On the other hand, Chattogram Regional Director of Department of Environment (DoE) Mokbul Hossain said that influential people are involved in cutting hills and constructing houses on the foothills to rent them out to lower-income people.
He said that 163 cases have been filed at 142 mobile courts and enforcement drives against those who cut hills. Tk1.95 crores have been fined from 2010-17 for cutting hills in Chattogram.
Chattogram Deputy Commissioner (DC) Elius Hossain said: "We do not want to see any landslide tragedy. We will take necessary steps to evacuate the people living vulnerably in the foothills. We want to ensure zero casualties during the upcoming monsoon."
Earlier, a colourful procession to raise awareness about landslide was brought out from Chattogram Circuit House.
According to the Chattogram District Administration, there are 28 hills in the district which are vulnerable to landslides. The district administration has so far listed 684 families who are living in these foothills.