17 years on, Sundarbans Day yet to get official recognition
BAGERHAT, Feb 13: Residents of Bangladesh's southern coastal districts have been organising programmes on February 14 to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Sundarbans. Locals and environment activists have been demanding the government officially recognise the day and observe it nationally. But there has been no progress in the last 17 years.
The Sundarbans was declared a reserve forest in 1878. A large part of the world's largest mangrove forest is in Bangladesh. It hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna, including Royal Bengal Tiger, many species of birds, crocodiles and dolphins.
Rafiqul Islam Khokon, director of Khulna-based Rupantor, said they decided to observe February 14 as Sundarbans Day at the Jatiya Sundarbans Conference in 2001. "If we want to preserve Sundarbans as part of our glory, there is no alternative to giving national recognition to the Sundarbans Day," he told, lamenting the lack of initiative by the government.
But Prof Dr Mahmud Hossain of Khulna University's Forestry and Wood Technology Discipline claimed the government was dedicated to protecting Sundarbans and that it took various projects to preserve forest's resources. "The importance of Sundarbans will be increased if the day gets official recognition and observer nationally," he said.
Md Mahmudul Hasan, divisional forest officer of Sundarbans East Zone, said an official recognition would lead to the involvement of more people in preserving the forest. -UNB