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St. Martins Island

St. Martin's Island Map

About St. Martin's Island

Work for development of resorts and tourist facilities in Saint Martin's Island, the only coral-bearing island in Bangladesh, is going on at a snail's pace, giving rise to concern among local people. Located on the southern-most tip of the country, the island has immense prospect to become a special tourist zone. Entrepreneurs and nature-loving people have already either purchased or leased around three-fourths of its total land to develop tourist facilities, sources said. The local people, who are mainly farmers and fishermen, thought development of tourism would create employment opportunities for them, but they have become frustrated as work for construction of resorts or other facilities has not started on most plots. The offshore island, located some 32 km away from Teknaf Sadar Upazila, has an area of around 416 acres for about 5,500 inhabitants. Most of the poor islanders living hand-to-mouth sold or leased out some 300 acres of cultivable land to the developers at an apparent lucrative price ranging up to Tk 6 lakh per Kani (40 decimals), sources said. Among the purchasers are ex-ministers, MPs, secretaries and industrialists and businessmen. Although a few modern hotels and motels have been constructed for tourism purposes, they are hardly of any help to local people as far as the employment is concerned. More than 60 per cent of around 100 acres of land the locals are at present left with is being used for coconut cultivation. The poor people now fear that they would have to face hard times in near future when they even might have to starve. The islanders also alleged that they are being neglected in various ways. Apart from natural calamities such as tidal upsurge and cyclones and attacks of diseases, they are deprived of utility services, they said. They remain almost detached from the outside world for about three months during the monsoon when service of all the four ships, the only mode of transport, remains suspended. Their fishing trawlers also lie idle as the sea becomes wild and stormy at that time, leaving them captive in their home, said the islanders while talking to this correspondent. There are only one high school, one government primary school, one non-government primary school, six moktabs and three madrasas in the island, said Amir Hossain, an inhabitant. Some 10 per cent of the inhabitants are literate. Only three people have completed graduation, six higher secondary and 10 secondary levels of education. Only one girl has passed the SSC examination. There are over one hundred tubewells in the island, but 85 of them are out of order, they said.The healthcare situation is in terrible shape. The islanders got a ten-bed hospital only two years ago. But the poor people are deprived of all sorts of treatment due to shortage of doctors and medicines. The poor people depend on only drug stores, which also sell date-expired medicine, they alleged.

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