People, mostly from low-income group, are living on hilltops or slopes risking their lives due to possible landslide
Thousands of people are living at risk from landslides in the south-eastern district of Rangamati.
With the arrival of monsoon, landslides may occur anytime anywhere in the hilly areas as more rainfall is expected.
The district administration has already identified 35 locations as dangerous areas and has readied shelters in case of an emergency evacuation.
Earlier this month, it issued landslide warnings for residents in vulnerable areas.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Md Mizanur Rahman told Dhaka Tribune the administration has taken all possible measures to prevent deaths from large landslides.
“We cannot stop such disasters from happening, but have taken all necessary measures to avoid fatalities,” he said.
DC Rahman said they have also marked rehabilitation centres for the affected and is ready to supply aid for those who are living on several dangerous slopes.
“At least 35 locations have been declared as ‘risky’ and we have prepared 29 shelters for evacuation purposes,” added the district administration chief.
Rangamati residents, however, feel that the authorities are not doing enough.
With the arrival of the monsoon, fear of landslides grips residents of the district town’s Shimultuli, Vedvedi, Sanatan Para, Rupnagar, Arshi Nagar, TV Station and Loknath Temple neighbourhoods.
The low-income people living in the district’s Kaptai, Kawkhali and Naniarchar upazilas urged the authorities to take immediate steps to relocate them to a safer place.
"We live in a very risky area. There’s no guarantee for our lives if it rains heavily,” said Abdul Quddus, who lives at town’s Shimultali.
Rupnagar resident Minu Ara Begum says they have built a home after cutting hills as they have no place of their own. “When it rains heavily, we rush to the shelters to save our lives."
Bilkis, who lives in the same neighbourhood, said that they constantly fear for their lives during the rainy season due to landslide risks. “We have nowhere else to go.”
Authorities, however, say they are trying their level best.
“A concerted effort is needed. It is not possible to get everything done overnight. This is a long-term plan.
“We are conducting awareness campaigns, which includes installing signboards and banners, announcements through megaphones, and distributing leaflets,” said Rangamati DC Rahman.
In 2017, at least 120 people were killed in Rangamati after landslides due to heavy rain. The landslide also disrupted connectivity to Chittagong, Khagrachhari and Bandarban for several days.
The following year, 11 people were killed in a landslide at the district’s Naniarchar upazila.