Beach bike rides, a common tourist attraction at Cox’s Bazar sea beach, are becoming a death trap for crab, snail, turtle, oysters of the government announced Ecologically Critical Area (ECA).

On a recent visit the UNB reporter saw numbers of battery-operated bikes, jeeps, cars and other vehicles moving at Pechar Dwip beach in Ramu upazila,  and at Kakra Beach in the Himchari Para area. It is the zone where marine invertebrates and turtles habitat, breed and wander.

Most of those unpermitted vehicles were seen operating without any care as crabs, snails and oysters got crushed under them.

The beach area starting from the Reju canal estuary to Kakra beach is the egg-laying zone of marine turtles.

According to locals, they did not spot any sea turtles coming to lay eggs in this area this year like regular. The number was on the decline anyway as mother turtles while laying eggs and newborn turtles on their way to sea often got crushed under those deadly wheels of beach bikes.

The uneven surface, sound pollution and an overly lit beach were making the zone unsuitable for turtles to lay eggs, and that is very concerning for the biodiversity and ecology according to the experts.

“Adam Tamiji Haque and his other family members, proprietor for Haque Company, are operating beach bike service at Pechar Dwip area while Cox’s Bazar Beach Bike Owners Cooperative Association is at Himchari Para area,” said Shamir Ranjan Shaha, range officer of Himchari National Park.

He said the concerned individuals and organizations involved with the business have been verbally warned about the laws but they continue to operate vehicles on the beach showing complete disregard to it. 

Advocate Ayasur Rahman, president of Himchari National park co-management executive committee said Pechar Dwip and Kakra beach areas, have been habitat, breeding and wandering ground for sea turtles, marine invertebrates like crab, snail, oysters, and many aquatic birds.

“According to the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 (Amendment of 2010) the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf peninsula has been declared an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA). Under the law, it is prohibited to do any activities like transportation in this area that is detrimental for marine life,” said Ayasur.

Also, the Wildlife (safety and security) Act, 2012, emphasizes conserving habitats of wildlife, so immediate steps are necessary to protect the biodiversity of the concerned area, he added.

“Following the reported destruction of marine life in the beach area the committee has informed the district administration, Forest Department and Environment Department to ban the use of beach bike and vehicle movements in an effort to conserve marine biodiversity,” he said.

Sarwar Alam, Divisional Forest Officer of Cox’s Bazar Forest Department (south), said he was informed about some illegal transport operating in the beach and tamarisks or Jhau forest area adjacent to it, and he would be looking into it sincerely.

“Beach bikes are allowed to operate only from Kalatali point to Darianagar beach and vehicle movement at any other area of Cox’s Bazar beach is prohibited,” said Md Murad Islam, Executive Magistrate (tourism cell) of the district.

”Regular drives will be conducted against bikes or any other unapproved vehicle movement on the beach as the administration is giving utmost importance to protect the environment of Cox’s Bazar Beach,” Murad added.

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