The MP candidates assured the people through meetings with a civil society platform for ensuring forest people’s rights, while Sundarbans Watch Group submitted 8 point memorandum to BNP led 4-Party-Alliance candidates Ameer Ezaz Khan (Khulna-1, Batiaghata-Dacope), Nazrul Islam Manju (Khulna-2, Khulna Sadar and Sonadanga) and Awami League led Greater Alliance candidates Nani Gopal Mondal (Khulna-1), Mizanur Rahman Mizan (Khulna-2) and Advocate Sohrab Ali Sana (Khulna-5).
Mr. Nani Gopal assured the SWG members to take necessary action to ensure participatory management of forest resources. He also expressed his commitment to establish Forest People’s Communities access to forest resource collection, but, he added, some influential people may take the lead of the forest peoples organizations. We should conscious about the risk.
Mr. Nazrul Islam Manju said, we have to stop the outsider traders if we want to save our Sundarbans. He criticized IFIs especially ADB for their inadequate projects in southwest region and call for protesting this type of negative initiatives.
Mr. Sohrab Ali Sana expressed his sympathy to the forest peoples who are deprived from their livelihood due to ban of forest resource collection for last two years. He assured access of forest peoples in collection and management of Sundarbans forest resources if he will be elected.
SWG member Sazzadur Rahim has submitted the memorandum to the candidates on behalf of the forum. The SWG demands are: (a) Participatory management of Sundarbans Mangrove Forest with active participation of Forest Peoples, Local Government and Civil Society (b) Full access of Forest Peoples in collection of forest resources prohibiting the traders (c) Development and strict implementation of Ecotourism Policy (d) Ensuring Identity Card for all Forest Peoples (e) Speedy vehicle, primary health services, modern ammunition, security remuneration and safe water & sanitation for the Forest Department staffs in remote areas (f) Promoting local eco-friendly income generating potentials like Nypa Palm cultivation, Nypa Fruiticans sugar & drinks, Mele (Elephant grass) cultivation, community based mangrove forestry etc. (g) Socioeconomic development of the forest people’s communities (especially education, health and social safety-net) by forest revenues ignoring IFI involvement in Sundarbans.
Among others, renowned journalist and SWG convener Gouranga Nandy, The Daily NewAge contributor Tapos Kanti Das, SWG member secretary Hasan Mehedi, Center for Education and Culture (CEC) coordinator Humayun Kabir Boby, The Daily Probaha reporter Shamim Ashraf Shelley and Paribartan-Khulna executive director Nazmul Azam David was present in the meetings.