CHATTOGRAM: The administration concerned evicted around 100 illegal establishments yesterday (Friday) to save the biodiversity of Bangladesh's lone coral island St Martin's. After declaring the St Martin's island as "St Martin's Marine Protected Area" last month, the administration started to evict illegal establishments from the island from yesterday (Friday), said sources in the office of Divisional Commissioner of Chattogram.
Sources said, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Cox's Bazar Md Nasim Ahamed led the eviction drive. The Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Teknaf Parvej Chowdhury was also present during the eviction operation at Saint Martin's Island on Friday.
Besides, another team of Department of Environment (DoE) also conducted eviction drive which was led by Executive Magistrate Sayeda Parvin at the same time. The team of administration conducted the drive in North Para area while DoE conducted drive in West and East Para area.
Executive Magistrate of DoE Sayeda Parvin said, "We have evicted hotels and illegal establishments from the island. The drive will continue to save the island."
UNO of Teknaf Parvej Chowdhury said, 'We have received the directives from the office of Prime Minister in this regard. As the government has declared the St Martin's island as "St Martin's Marine Protected Area", we have started evicting all illegal establishments from the island."
Sources said, a circular, signed by Depok Kumar Chakborti, the Deputy Secretary of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry was issued on January 04 last in this regard. The ministry declared the St Martin's island as "St Martin's Marine Protected Area" under section 13(1) and 13(2) of the Wild Animal law of 2012. The circular said that to save the coral, biodiversity and enrich the Blue Economy and achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), the government declared the St Martin's island as "St Martin's Marine Protected Area".
Sources said, earlier, the DoE declared the Saint Martin as "Ecologically Critical Area (ECA)" in 1995. The gazette of the government was published on June 29 in 1999 last in this regard. As a result, the government directed to stop all construction at Saint Martin's without approval of the authority concerned.
But, biodiversity of Saint Martin's Island in Cox's Bazar is being destroyed by illegal infrastructure and business related tourism there. Unplanned infrastructure has mushroomed in the island to cater to the needs of huge tourists. Huge illegal infrastructure built in an unplanned manner, destruction of mangrove plants and bushes, collection of sea shells and stones, unplanned development of tourism, visit by a huge number of tourists, and dumping of garbage were threatening the island, sources, experts and locals said.
DoE sources said, the presence of 153 species of sea weeds, 66 species of coral, 187 species of oysters, 240 species of fish, 120 species of birds, 29 species of reptiles and 29 species of mammals were recorded at the St Martin's Island in 2010.
Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, president of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan (Bapa) Cox's Bazar district committee said, the island has lost its glory due to activities of the land grabbers and polluters.