Awami League joint general secretary and information minister Hasan Mahmud addresses the inauguration of 500,000 tree plantation programme on the occasion of Mujib Barsho at CRB Shrishtala on 2 October 2020
Awami League joint general secretary and information minister Hasan Mahmud addresses the inauguration of 500,000 tree plantation programme on the occasion of Mujib Barsho at CRB Shrishtala on 2 October 2020BSS

Awami League (AL) joint general secretary and information minister Hasan Mahmud has said many Rohingyas, who came to Bangladesh during the tenure of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in 1991 and 1992, are still in the country as none of them returned to their motherland Rakhine state, Myanmar.

“I will tell BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir that BNP was in power for 10 years twice since 1991, but they were not able to send back the Rohingyas who came to the country during their tenure,” he said.

The minister said Bangabandhu’s daughter prime minister Sheikh Hasina had opened the border for the Rohingyas on humanitarian ground, reports state-run news agency BSS.

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“Millions of Rohingyas have been saved from the atrocities that were going on them. The whole world has praised the prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Various international newspapers and media have termed the prime minister ‘Mother of Humanity’. The entire world is praising, but the BNP could not praise her,” he said.

Our government is putting diplomatic pressure on international community to ensure repatriation of Rohingyas… The government wants to solve the problem through international community and international court of justice not through war
Hasan Mahmud, Information minister

Hasan said this while addressing the inaugural function of 500,000 tree plantation programme on the occasion of Mujib Barsho (Year) at CRB Shrishtala on Friday evening.

Tilottama Chattogram, a social organisation, organised the event.

The information minister said this in reply to a question about the allegation of BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir that Rohingya repatriation was not going well.

Shahela Abedin Rima, founder director of Tilottama Chatogram presided over the function.

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Mentioning that Rohingya issue is being prosecuted at International Court of Justice (ICJ) due to the diplomatic efforts of Bangladesh, Hasan said, “Our government is putting diplomatic pressure on international community to ensure repatriation of Rohingyas… The government wants to solve the problem through international community and international court of justice not through war.”

He also mentioned that Myanmar had been summoned by the ICJ, as well as given some instructions. “The court asked them to take back the Rohingyas… This is the success of Bangladesh’s diplomatic efforts.”

Chattogram is a city of natural beauty, but in the name of development, it has been degraded through cutting down trees and hills indiscriminately, he said

“Bangladesh is one of the worst affected countries of climate change. The country has become self-sufficient in grain productions under the leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina, which has surprised the world.”

Hasan further said that Bangladesh achieved fourth position in vegetables production in the world, third position in rice production, fifth position in freshwater fish production and seventh in potato production.

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These achievements have been made possible with time-befitting steps of the Awami League government, he said.

Hasan Mahmud said that after Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina returned to the country as AL president in 1981, she started a month-long tree plantation campaign through Krishak League in 1983 to transform it into a social movement.

“She has been able to transform tree plantation into a full-fledged movement after taking charge of the country in 1996. People now go to the market and buy necessary products as well as saplings. Apart from other shops, there are also seedling shops at different markets,” he added.

He went on saying, “Tree plantation has turned into a movement in the country today. Social organisations like Tilottama Chattogram have made a huge contribution to the movement.”

The tree-covered area in Bangladesh is 22.4 per cent of the total land. This small country has more tree-covered area than India. But our country could have more beautiful trees and adorned with flowers if we were a little more aware. We can make the country more beautiful if we are a little more careful over tree plantation,” he added.

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Chattogram is a city of natural beauty, but in the name of development, it has been degraded through cutting down trees and hills indiscriminately, he said.

He said, “I am a student of environmental science, I was the secretary of environmental affairs of Bangladesh AL for 10 long years. I still try to teach environmental science in university and try to take at least one class in a week. So when I see a building being built in the field, it feels like someone has driven a nail into my chest.”

The government has decided to use land zoning method. Once it is done, houses will not be built here and there, he hoped.