News No. 100/2014, Monday, October 20, 2014
THE government of Bangladesh is reported to be mulling over a plan to construct a hydroelectric dam over the Nakrai river in Guimara, Khagrachari, leaving the residents of a vast area worrying about the prospect of being evicted from their ancestral homesteads.
According to local sources and a Jumma blog, the dam is proposed to be built over the river Nakrai, which lies about 7 kilometers from Guimara Sadar and flowing between two Mouzas – Boroitoli 212 and Nakrai 228.
The project is reportedly being finalized in a hurried manner behind the scenes.
A report in chtbd.org said neither the public representatives nor the concerned village chiefs were consulted about the project. Even the Mong chief is not aware of the matter, it added.
According to the report, on 13 September, the army visited the project site at Nakrai-chara and took photographs of the whole area.
On September 25, they held a secret meeting about the project at Guimara brigade where no Jumma representative was invited.
Earlier, in 2012, the AC Land of Ramgarh Upazila and Kongjori Marma, the Headman of the Mouza under which the project site lies, had visited the area to select the site of the dam.
The chtbd quoted Probesh Karbari as saying that three sites have been selected primarily for the construction of the dam and that it would be constructed in the downstream.
Kongjori Marma (Headman) assured that those to be affected by the dam would be compensated appropriately.
However, Probesh Karbari (village chief) said they would not accept compensation and that they would continue to live in their ancestral land, implying they would resist the project.
The Jumma blog quoted Kongjori Marma as saying that “the survey of the area is complete. Now is the turn of the technicians and engineers to begin their job.”
The Jumma villagers think that the purpose of the dam is to facilitate infiltration of illegal Bengali settlers in their area.
“After the dam is built, an army camp will have to be set up to protect it, and along with the army camp will come Bengali settlers. Therefore, there is no need for a dam here. We are very much happy with solar energy.” they said.
According to the villagers, in 2009 – 10, the government had made attempts to rehabilitate Bengali settlers in the area, but they failed when the Jumma people resisted.
Having failed to implant the settlers directly, the government, especially the army, is now trying to achieve its aim in a roundabout way, which is the construction of the dam, a seemingly innocuous project with devastating impact on the lives of the Jumma people.