Soil mafia destroying Halda

Published : 22 Jan 2024 10:11 PM

Extraction of soil from the bank of the Halda River in Fatikchhari Upazila of Chattogram continues unabated under the very nose of the authorities concerned, endangering the world’s lone natural fish breeding sanctuary. 

The Halda River plays an important role in increasing the production of various species of delicious native fish. 

The government has declared the Halda River, the only natural fish breeding centre of the country, ‘Bangabandhu Fisheries (Matsya) Heritage’ to protect the sweet water fish of the country. Therefore, all must feel the importance of this fisheries heritage, traditional status and its environmental aspects. But, it is unfortunate to note that soil extraction from the Halda River bank still continues, breaching the environmental laws. 

Grabbing of soil from the Halda raises questions about whether the authorities concerned are unable to stop the soil cutting due to ‘pressure from any political quarters’ or they (authorities) patronise them through underhand dealings. Some influential people are involved in the illegal soil cutting process. As a result, the bank of the river is shrinking alarmingly, which may cause erosion of the river bank. Hills and hillocks in the Halda River area are also being levelled by the vested interest group. Many are cutting soil in the area at night.

The influential people take the soil from the river bank to nearby brickfields with the help of the local administration at night. Besides, thick black smoke emitting from the brickfields is also destroying the ecological balance there.  The trucks carrying the soil and bricks are damaging hilly roads. We express our dismay at the inaction of the local administration, forest department and police in this regard. The Halda is the only natural breeding ground of the world where sweet-water fishes release their eggs at a certain period of the monsoon. A 10-kilometre area, from Ramdas Munshirhat to Sattar Canal, is considered to be the breeding ground of sweet-water carp fish. 


extraction continues unabated

 from the river bank 

violating environmental laws

Some popular fish species like Ruhi, Katla, Mrigel and Kalibaush release eggs in the Halda. These fishes usually release eggs between March and June. 

But if the soil extraction from the river bank continues, it would be very tough to ensure safe breeding of mother fish. The authorities concerned sometimes conduct raid to stop soil extraction and hill cutting and fine the culprits. 

Cases are also filed against the labours but the main culprits always remain untouched as they have an unholy nexus with the local administration. Showing thumbs to the authorities they are still extracting and selling soil for brickfields and construction work. 

These influential people and musclemen in association with local armed middlemen threaten the people who protest the soil extraction and hill cutting. The Halda River situated in greater Chattogram district enriched with natural beauty, is also a very attractive destination for tourists.

Apart from soil extraction, hill cutting and deforestation, unplanned Jum cultivation and climate change are also causing harm to the Halda River. So, we can say Halda River is under threat of natural and man-made disasters.  

The government must take necessary steps to stop soil cutting from the Halda River bank and bring culprits to book immediately. All kinds of assistance and supervision will also have to be provided by the local administration and fisheries department to protect fish breeding sanctuary. 

We believe that the Halda River, known as a fish bank of the country will survive and continues to produce delicious indigenous species of fish for us.