Sand lifting poses risk of landslide in Kamalganj

Published : 24 Jan 2022 08:38 PM

Illegal extraction of silica sand has started from the hill creek flowing through the tea gardens ignoring the order of the high court. As a result, the government is losing revenue in addition to severe damage to the environment, including rupture of hills, roads, creeks and culverts. Illegal extraction of silica sand from Sunchhara and Kamarchhara tea gardens of Alinagar in Kamalganj upazila is causing serious damage to the environment. The garden authorities have already lodged a written complaint with the administration but it is not being stopped.

It can be seen on the ground that silica sand is being dug up from the hills and transported by truck. Although the tea garden authorities had lodged a written complaint with the deputy commissioner last year to take action to stop illegal sand mining, no action was taken. 

A local syndicate has been continuously extracting, selling and transporting silica sand from various places in Sunchhara and Kamarchhara tea gardens for a long time. In addition to landslides, tea mounds, garden roads, iron culverts between two tea gardens, the environment, the environment and potential mineral resources are severely damaged. There have also been allegations of obstruction in the transportation of tea leaves from tea gardens.

On June 10 and 26 last year, Alinagar Tea Garden Manager lodged a written complaint with Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner demanding an end to illegal sand lifting. It said that although the stream between Sunchhara and Rajkandi Reserve Forest was not leased as sand extraction zone, large-scale sand extraction continued in violation of the ban. Roads in the tea garden are becoming completely unusable for trucks used for sand extraction. The rupture of the sand extraction site has resulted in severe landslides in the environment and tea sections. Besides, the development and roadmap of the tea industry adopted by the government's tea board is being severely hampered.

According to the relevant sources, 51 hill creeks under Moulvibazar district were declared as silica sand area by notification on 16 June 2013. Of these, 19 were leased for non-mechanical extraction of sand. The uncontrolled and illegal extraction of sand in the leaseholders is also causing environmental and environmental catastrophe in the concerned areas including Kamalganj district. In this regard, on March 7, 2016, the Environmental Lawyers Association filed a writ petition in the public interest. Following the hearing, a division bench of the High Court on March 21 restrained 19 sand extraction zones from granting subsequent leases without Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Clearance (ECC).

However, ignoring these rules of the high court, the administration is constantly extracting sand from Sunchhara and Kamarchhara with the tip of its nose. Later, with the addition of trucks and pickups, the cycle is selling and transporting. This is not only harming the environment, the government is also losing a huge amount of revenue. Alinagar Tea Garden Manager Habib Ahmed Chowdhury said that two applications had been lodged with Moulvibazar Deputy Commissioner last year regarding illegal sand extraction. Even then, due to the lack of effective measures, the environment is being severely damaged, including the tea garden roads, and we are also terrified.

Environmental Lawyers Associa­tion BELA's Sylhet Divisional Coordinator Advocate Shah Saheda said that the issue of sand extraction by disobeying the court verdict is tantamount to contempt of court. Since most of the creeks flow through the tea gardens, Bangladesh Tea Board needs to compile a data and present the information about the creeks through the tea gardens in Sylhet division. 

Badrul Huda, assistant director of the Bangladesh Environment Department's Moul­vibazar, said the creeks were not leased. However, the local upazila administration can also play a role.

In this regard, Kamalganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer Ashekul Haque said that the matter will be seriously investigated and necessary steps will be taken in the course of investigation.