Posted on September 13, 2022
Sand is being extracted from rivers, canals and water bodies illegally In different areas under 75 unions and three municipalities of Bagerhat district.
There are allegations that, in most cases, politically influential people are involved.
By converting high-capacity diesel engines, dredgers are being made locally and used in the sand lifting, say locals.
Depending on the location, area and distance, the sand is sold for Tk5-20 per cubic foot. Dredger owners have alleged that part of the money received from the sale of the sand has to be paid to the local public representatives.
The dredger installed in Chha-Baki canal of Abdul Rasulpur village belongs to Ripon Kumar Masid, member of Ward 8 of Dema Union Parishad, while the owner of the dredger placed in the branch canal of Andharia River in Barabashbaria area is Palash from Fayla area of Rampal upazila. Dema Union Awami League President Sheikh Jahangir Hossain is lifting sand with this dredger, sources say.
Ripon Kumar Masid said everyone lifted sand, so he had also made a dredger and used it in extracting sand on contract basis.
“The upazila nirbahi officer sir called me over the phone, so I stopped it,” he said.
However, Sheikh Jahangir Hossain told The Business Standard, “I am not building my house with this sand. The field of a local school is being filled up with this sand so that our students can study. When the field is filled, I will stop the machine.”
A resident of Dema Union, seeking anonymity, said not only in Abdul Rasulpur and Barabashbaria, sand was being extracted with dredgers in different places under the union.
“If you talk about it, you have to face the wrath of influential people. So even if there is a loss, you have to remain silent,” said the resident.
Mohammad Azizur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Bagerhat, said, “We have taken legal actions against illegal sand extractors by conducting mobile courts. Drives against illegal sand lifters will continue as per existing laws.”
What the law says
According to sub-section 1 of section 5 of the Sand Fields and Soil Management Act, 2010, no underground sand or soil can be extracted by pumping or dredging or any other means.
According to Section 4 (kha), sand lifting is prohibited within one kilometre of bridges, culverts, dams, roads, highways, railway lines and other important public and private structures or residential areas.
Violators of the law are punishable with two years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of Tk10 lakh or both.
According to various research reports, sand lifting causes various damages to the environment.
Professor Dilip Kumar Dutta of environmental science department of Khulna University said the biggest loss of sand extracting was the loss of natural landscape. As a result, there was a permanent adverse effect on the life of the residents of the area.
He said there will be a big negative impact on the environment if the sand lifting is not stopped.