Firoz Ahmed Khan and Nur Ahmed, two former union parishad chairmen of Saint Martin, told Prothom Alo that the influential people buy the land first and then employ people to incinerate or cut the Keya forest in the land they bought. Later, permanent infrastructures for hotel-resort, restaurant or others are built there. Although the law forbids construction of pucca infrastructures in the island, almost all structures are pucca. DoE sees it all but turns a blind eye.
Located in northeastern tip of Bangladesh, Saint Martin’s is the only coral island of the country. It is a union of Teknaf upazila under Cox’s Bazar district. The 8-square kilometer island has 9 villages.
Local administration and residents said the first building was constructed on the island in 2004. Now the island is dotted with 138 buildings. Even in 2018, there were only 48 such structures on the island. So, around 90 buildings were constructed on the island in the last four years. At least 30 more buildings are now under-construction in Saint Martin’s.
Local representatives and fishermen said several resorts and restaurants were constructed even inside Keya forest. Tom-tom (a kind of battery-run rickshaw) and motorbikes carrying tourists ply on the beach crashing red crabs, snails and oysters under wheels. The island got inundated during tidal surges in the last two years. The island went completely under water during cyclone Sitrang.