Tourists love the view on their journey through the mountain roads filled with trees on both sides
Loggers in Thanchi and Alikadam are cutting down trees on a massive scale, threatening the ecological balance, and causing widespread criticism and concern among locals and environmentalists alike.
Thanchi and Alikadam upazila in Bandarban are graced by a natural beauty of green mountains and some of the best tourist destinations in the country.
Tourists love the view on their journey through the mountain roads filled with trees on both sides.
But now that beauty is under threat because of local loggers cutting down those roadside trees.
Our correspondent found felled trees stacked on either side of a 10-km stretch of the Thanchi-Alikadam road (from the 13km marker to the 23km marker).
The trees were kept there to be processed locally or transported to lumber mills by small jeeps every few hours.
Local politician Somronjon Barua, vice president of Awami League's Alikadam upazila unit, says some local government officials are turning a blind eye in this regard as they have been paid off by the traders.
Hills have been razed to make way for lots of roads to transport the logs and firewood.
Lumberjacks are cutting down Boilam, Bohera, Rong, Gamar, Garzan, Shil, Koroi, Mahogani, and many other trees on the excuse of collecting firewood.
Wishing to remain anonymous, some local loggers and traders said they are paying a commission to local Forest Department officers for cutting down the trees.
Alikadam Forest Officer (Toin Range) Khandokar Shamsul Huda said: "If we receive any information while the loggers are transporting firewood then we can seize the wood-laden jeeps. Otherwise we don't have enough resources to conduct drives on the Thanchi-Alikadam road."
Lama upazila Forest Officer SM Kaiser said: "I wasn't aware of this until now. I will provide necessary directions to take action against them."
Alikadam Sadar Union parishad Chairman Md Nasir Uddin said: "Government has started many projects to encourage afforestation. Although we are planting new trees, local loggers are cutting down trees mercilessly and if we don't stop them soon then they will become more bold and reckless."
Alikadam UNO Md Shaed Iqbal said: "Nobody has any authority to cut down trees on the roadside which is under government jurisdiction. If anyone does this then we will take legal action against him."