Online reg required for St. Martin visit

Dhaka, Saturday   25 May 2019

Online reg required for St. Martin visit

Max 1250 visitors allowed

 Staff Correspondent daily-bangladesh.com

 Published: 09:50 PM, 23 April 2019  

Photo: Daily Bangladesh

Photo: Daily Bangladesh

The government is to impose legal barriers for the visit of the only country’s coral island St. Martin.   The environment authority is going to tighten method and condition for St. Martin tour as the excessive visitors’ attendance is creating environmental threat for the Island. Now about 15 thousand tourists visit the Island per day while maximum 1250 visitors will be allowed to tour the spot from the next season.

Sources said, the country's only coral reef St. Martin is going to die due to the presence of excess tourists beyond the capacity. Now the Department of Environment and Cox's Bazar Unnayan Kartripakkha (CUK) is taking initiatives to save Saint Martin through tourism and go-around control. From now on, you have to register online to go to this island.

CUK Chairman Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Forkan Ahmed said that St. Martin's is an important asset in Bangladesh. If St. Martin is prepared for natural use, the country's economy will be rich. But now St. Martin's status is violent. The island has fallen in coral-algae annihilation, along with with the destruction of biodiversity as well as the environmental risks. Now we are trying to preserve the coral Island by creating masterplans.”

“Meanwhile, a policy has already been created. This policy will be launched from the upcoming tourism season (December-April). How many tourists can go to St. Martin, how many can stay, how much ships can move, everything will be specified,” said CUK chair Forkan Ahmed.

In 7,000 square kilometers, St Martin's population is about 10 thousand.

According to the Department of Environment, in 1999, the government announced the St. Martin Island as the Environmental Critical Area (ECA). The island has 154 species of algae, 157 species of plants, 68 species of coral, 191 species of snail-mists, 10 species of crabs, 6 species of butterflies, 234 species of fish, 4 species of amphibians and 29 species of reptiles. On the island, there were 110 species of birds including 77 species of local birds, 33 species of migratory birds, and 25 species of mammals. Now many have disappeared.

On April 16, the Environment Department arranged a seminar titled 'Cox's Bazar Environment Management' at a star hotel in Cox's Bazar beach. Director General of the Environment Department, Sultan Ahmad said that the St. Martin Island is in the ecological risk. A large number of tourists' commutes will be controlled to protect the island. From the next season, maximum1,250 tourists will be allowed to move St. Martin daily. Visitors will have to register online before traveling to Saint Martin.

According to the Directorate of Environment, the groundwater level of the island has dropped below the range in order to meet the needs of additional people in the coral Island. That is why salt water has entered in more than 100 tube wells. Especially, from December to March, seven thousand people on the island suffer crisis of drinking water. Many people are suffering from diarrhea and many diseases due to drinking salt water during this time.

Quamrul Hasan, Assistant Director of the Department of Environment, said “From March 1 last, the government impose a ban on tourists in St. Martin. But for some reason, it did not work. However, steps will be taken to protect St. Martin, with the government ban on night-time from next season.”

Mujibur Rahman, president of the St. Martin Hotel Owners Association, said, “We are making awareness among the tourists visiting the island. So the coral, snail-collection has decreased a lot. Government initiatives is needed for planned waste management.”

Tour Operators Association Cox's Bazar (TOAC) President Tofail Ahmed said, “TOAC is working to develop awareness about St. Martin on the island.” To control the excess population, the movement of wooden boats should be stopped. If the ban is imposed on the nighttime tourists in St. Martin, then the tourism industry of Cox's Bazar will be affected. Then 40 thousand families will be unemployed.

St. Martin's UP Chairman Nur Ahmad said “The life and livelihood of the island’s people depend on tourism. There is a need to create a policy for this. In light of the principle that the island will be saved, people will live.”

DailyBangladesh/Prince