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Sahidul Islam Rana, BSS
Lifestyle of hill people has changed a lot as the incumbent government implemented various development projects, including schemes in the road communication sector, in Chattogram hill tracts (CHT) in the last 10 years.
“Due to construction of asphalt roads and huge infrastructural development, the life has become easier and comfortable here than in the past,” Jhum cultivator Atul Chakma, an inhabitant of Machalong area of Baghai upazila of Khagrachhari, told BSS.
The tribal villager said for being a remote and inaccessible hill region plagued with insurgent terror groups people were afraid of visiting the CHT comprising the district of Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban.
But at present, the scenario has changed dramatically as a result of pragmatic steps taken by the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he added.
Atul said very confidently, “I, along with some other farmers, go to Khagrachhahri town early morning to sell banana, pineapple, orange and mango and other products and return home in the afternoon every day. This has become possible due to good road links.” He added: “Due to the concrete roads, many vehicles especially locally made Chander Gari (four-wheeler) plies the Chattogram-Khagracchari, Khgarachhari-Rangamati road. People of the area use this mode of transportation to go Khagrachhari town or Rangamati.”
Shantimoy Chakama 28, the driver of a four-wheeler, talked to this correspondent in front of Munigram High School of Khagrachhari Sadar Upazila. He said the lifestyle of the people has changed due to the concrete roads.
One Congu Marma, 62, a two-time elected councilor of Ward No-1 under 5 No Bhaibonchhara Union Parishad, said it was very tough to go to the town or any other places before 2007 by road, but it is possible at present.
“Now many things are OK. We got concrete roads, new schools, community clinics, supply of hygienic water, solar panel alternative of electricity and sanitary latrine system,” he said also expressing his satisfaction over different development activities in hills.
Lal Thnaga Lusai, headman of 167 Lusia mouja, who runs a resort business near the Sajek Tourism spot in Rangamti, said, “At present the hill districts are not lagging behind due to pragmatic steps of the present administration. Improved road communications have made life easier.”
We can go to Khagrachhari by road within a few hours, the headman said adding that they can sell their products to Chartrogram and Khagrachhari markets without any hindrance.
Executive Engineer of Roads and Highways of Khagrachhari Sakil Mahmud Faisal said, “After the CHT peace accord some 108 kilometers of road were expanded in the region. A total of 31 bridges were constructed since 2007 whereas the number of such structures was only two in the past.”
Terming the Bailey bridges the main problem of road communication in hill districts, he said, “In Khagrachhari area, work on turning all the 43 bailey bridges into permanent concrete bridges is going on.”
Talking to BSS, Kujendra Lal Tripura, MP, of Khagrachhari-298 constituency, said, “People of Khagrachhari as well as the hill areas are witnessing different progress and time-befitting infrastructural development under this government.”
The lawmaker said in the road communication sector the post 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord situation is totally different from that of the past.
He said it used to take four to five hours to reach Khagrachhari from Chattogram earlier, but it needs only two-and-a-half an hour at present to travel the two district headquarters through Hathazari-Nazirhat due to newly constructed roads.
The life in the hill regions has almost changed due to massive development projects taken by the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he added.