Coal dumping in a particular place may be a casual exercise for the importers but it may end up causing serious health hazards for those living in the area. This is what is happening at Rajghat in Noapara of the district.
The Rajghat area of Noapara municipality up to Chengutia Bazar have been turned into a coal dump yard, causing respiratory problems to locals.
They complained that their food is also being spoilt by coal dust as coal traders keep dumping it alongside roads, riverbanks and railway tracks of the area.
Coal is also dumped on croplands and around homesteads. Poisonous coal dust is making life unbearable for the residents of Noapara.
Locals told UNB that coal dust spreads through the air and enters their nose, mouth and spoils their food and furniture.
They complained that their doors, windows, furniture and even the clothes are becoming unusable. “We’re consuming coal dust with our food,” one of them said.
They expressed frustration and indignation as the authorities concerned, including the Department of Environment (DoE), did not take any step despite their repeated pleas.
Sources at DoE said that setting up of any coal depot within 1.5 km of the locality is prohibited. Besides, the dumping ground has to be surrounded with high walls.
Md Azim Chowdhury, a resident of Bhangagate area, said almost every member of his family is suffering from respiratory illness due to the poisonous coal smoke and dust. Besides, they are forced to use face masks all the time.
Coal traders of Noapara bazar said around 15 importing firms bring in this huge amount of coal and dump it there. After unloading the imported coal, it is kept beside the Bhairab River.
Later, it is dumped beside the highway, railway track and residential areas. The retail and wholesale businessmen buy the coal and take it to various parts of the country on trucks.
Coal has been dumped haphazardly from Prembagh to Rajghat areas of the upazila, Taltolaghat area in Noapara municipality extending up to the Jashore-Khulna Highway. Many trees along the highway, railway track and on the river bank have withered away and died since the area turned into a coal dump yard.
Many people have sold their land property and left the area for good. A college lecturer told UNB that he and his family left their paternal homestead as they could not tolerate the unbearable irritation from coal.
Dr Mahmudur Rahman Rizvi, health and family planning officer of Abhaynagar Upazila, said smoke from coal is extremely hazardous to health.
“People are coming to hospital everyday with breathing and respiratory problems due to the haphazard dumping of coal in the area,” he said.
Nazmul Husain, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) told UNB that he has notified Jashore Deputy Commissioner and the Railways about the hazardous situation.