Government to fully implement CHT Peace Treaty: Gowher
25 January 2016, Nirapad News: Urging the hill people to have patience a little bit more, Prime Minister’s international affairs adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi has assured that the government will fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Treaty of 1997 soon.
“Our Prime Minister has signed the peace accord, and she’s now going ahead with her strong commitment and courage to implement it. I only request the people of CHT to have patience a little bit more as we’re going to fully implement the treaty very soon,” he said on Sunday.
He came up with the assurance while addressing a programme celebrating Bangladesh-ICIMOD Partnership Day 2016 at a city hotel.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry jointly arranged the programme to strengthen the organisation’s engagement in Bangladesh.
Gowher Rizvi said the government made a tremendous progress in implementing the CHT peace accord over the last 6-7 years. “We’ve all most completed the peace treaty that our Prime Minister had signed in 1997. But, we couldn’t fully implement it as the land dispute there is yet to be resolved.”
He further said, “There’s good news that the draft of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution (amendment) Bill is ready to table in parliament. We hope it’ll be placed and passed soon.”
Once the bill is passed, the PM’s adviser said there will be no barrier towards resolving the land dispute as well as the full implementation of the peace accord.
He stressed taking into consideration the hill people’s preference, views and their culture, ecology, climate and history in implementing development projects in the CHT.
Gowher Rizvi said it is a great obstacle to development of the CHT region as planners think whatever is right for plain people so does for those of hill. “Nothing could help develop the hill by imposing the same policy and same solution of plain people, ignoring the culture ecology and history and opinions of people of the region.”
Speaking at the programme, State Minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing said the CHT region is lagging behind the plain regions of the country in terms of different development indicators.
He said only three percent of the region is cultivable where people living in remote and distant areas still depend on jhum cultivation. “But, productivity of jhum cultivation has fallen. The people of those areas are also suffering from malnutrition as they have no alternative source of income.”
The junior minister said the CHT region has started facing the adverse impact of global warming and climate change as incessant rain, drought, land sliding and flood are very frequent nowadays. “The rivers and fountains are drying up during the dry season while agricultural production has decreased significantly.”
Under the circumstances, he called upon all local and international organisations, including ICIMOD, to come up with comprehensive projects to tackle the impacts of global warming and climate change and protect the biodiversity of the CHT and livelihood of its people.
CHT Affairs Ministry secretary Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura said Bangladesh has supported and participated in ICIMOD’s activities since its inception.
“The Bangladesh-ICIMOD collaboration covers a range of activities from knowledge sharing to income generation, livelihood improvement including shifting cultivation, watershed management, disaster risk reduction, adaptation to climate change, capacity building and skills development in many sectors including space applications and hydro-meteorological monitoring, and regional cooperation,” he mentioned.
He said ICIMODs supports the Bangladesh government to improve flood and water management as much of Bangladesh is located within the floodplains of three rivers — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, and their tributaries.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs Ministry RAM Obaidul Moktadir and director general ICIMOD Dr David Molden also spoke at the programme.
Bangladesh is one of the founding members of ICIMOD, a regional intergovernmental organisation established in 1983 by the eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Its dual mandate is to improve the environment of the hills and mountains and the lives of mountain people in the region, as well as in the river basins downstream.