Urging the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region to maintain peace and discipline, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today assured that they (people) would enjoy the ownership of their land in the area.
“Development is not possible without maintaining peaceful atmosphere … so, keeping this in mind, I call upon all to work together to this end,” she said.
The premier said the ownership of the land in Chittagong Hill Tracts won’t be determined by the laws of British era, rather the people of the area will enjoy the ownership of the land like the people of the other regions of the country.
“We want to establish such a system so that the people of the (Chittagong) Hill Tracts region can enjoy the ownership of their land … we want to ensure it,” she said.
The prime minister said this while opening the 4000th Para Kendra (Village Centre) in Chittagong Hill Tracts through a video conference from Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel here this morning.
The Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board and UNICEF jointly organized the inauguration ceremony of the 4000th Para Kendra of Mitingachhari under Kaptai upazila in Rangamati.
PM’s International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs RAM Ubaidul Muktadir Chowdhury and UNICEF Country Representative Edouard Beigbeder were present at the function as special guests.
State Minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing presided over the function, while CHT Affairs Secretary Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura delivered the welcome address.
Ministers, PM’s advisers, parliament members, diplomats, high civil and military officials and 400 workers of Para Kendra were also present.
Regarding the dispute over land issue, the prime minister said that the government has formed the Land Commission and if the commission could sit regularly the problem will be solved.
Recalling the signing of the landmark Peace Accord that ended two-decade insurgency problem in the CHT region, she said that lion share of the deal has already been implemented and the rest of the part will be executed surely.
“We’ve signed the peace accord and we’re implementing it … we’ve withdrawn 250 army camps from the region,” she said.
The prime minister said there was no border outpost of the BGB in the area. “But we’ve set up such BOPs in the area … we’re working to improve the living standard of every person of the region,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government merged those, who surrendered arms, to the police and Ansar and VDP and has arranged their training. “We have also made arrangements for “atap” rice in their training by relaxing the policy,” she said.
Elaborating the background of the peace accord, the prime minister said the government of any country always tries to solve any problem, but no strides were made by the post-1975 government to solve the insurgency problem in the CHT region.
“Our government solved the problem at the fastest possible time as it was able to diagnose the disease in this regard,” she said.
In this connection, the premier said many countries signed the peace treaty, but surrender of arms was not made in any country. “This historic peace accord was signed without involvement of any third party and it was an exceptional event in the world history,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said 1800 rebels surrendered their arms to her on February 10 in 1998 at Khagrachhari Stadium. “The insurgents did it as they had trust and confidence in me,” she said.
Remembering the surrender of arms by the rebels, the prime minister said she assured them going near to them, saying that there will be no problem as she remains with them. “I still remember the smiles that I saw on their face after my assurance,” she said.
Elaborating her government’s initiatives for the development of the CHT region, the prime minister said 29/30 subjects/departments have been transferred to Hill District Councils of Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.
“We’ve increased the allowance of the King, headmen and karbaris,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that the government wants to develop the whole country in a balanced way as the government gives importance to upliftment of the socioeconomic status of the country.
“One region of Bangladesh will remain neglected, this will never happen … it’s not possible to develop the country keeping one region neglected. So we are giving special attention to the development of the neglected areas of the country, overall development of the CHT area is our responsibility,” she said.
The prime minister said her government is working relentlessly for the development of CHT region in line with the peace accord.
“We’ve been implementing massive programmes in the region as it was out of touch of the development for 20 years,” she said.
In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said there was no separate budget for 3 hill districts before the peace accord. “Our present government allocated Tk 915.83 crore for the fiscal year 2017-18, while different ministries are implementing projects of about Tk 9000 crore in the region,” she said.
The premier said different schemes are being implemented for education, health, agriculture and communication for overall economic development. “As many as 17 projects included in current ADP are under implementation,” she said.
She said 1729 Rice Banks for food storage during the emergency period and 1551 farmers field schools were established for boosting agriculture production.
Sheikh Hasina said for the development of education, a Science and Technology University and one Medical College have been established in Rangamati.
She said 4000 Village Centres, 3500 para (village) development committees and1935 para (village) women development groups have been formed to reach the outcome of development to every house hold of 4811 villages of 375 mouzas of 121 union councils of 26 upazilas in 3 hill districts.
Regarding the expiry of the tenure of the Para Kendra project, the prime minister said the scheme will be integrated with a new project. “We want to start the project freshly to maintain the trend of development,” she said.
The prime minister also unveiled the cover of book titled “Chittagong Hill Tracts: Journey towards Peace and Prosperity”.
Earlier, a video documentary depicting the development activities in three hill districts under the Integrated Community Development Projects was screened.
The premier also exchanged views with the political leaders, MPs, officials of the administration as well as the beneficiaries of the project through the video conference.