The Jadukata is one of the 54 transboundary rivers flowing between India and Bangladesh. Originating from the Meghalaya Hills of India, it flows into Bangladesh through Sunamganj's Tahirpur and into Bishwamvarpur upazilas.
Known for its scenic beauty, the Jadukata is a reservoir of natural resources. Mountains stand still near the river and the sky seems to lean on the mountains. Barik tila sits on top of the river.
A Supreme Court decision in June designated two balumahal (sand quarries) in Jadukata. Jadukata-1 is flowing beside Barik tila. Shimul Bagan, the garden of cotton trees, is on the other side, and this is where another sand quarry called Jadukata-2 has been designated.
The ruling of the Supreme Court finally allowed for sand to be lifted from the river again, after being barred for years over environmental concerns. The area from which sand can be legally mined has been very strictly demarcated.
Additionally, it was stipulated that no heavy-duty machinery could be used in the extraction of sand. Since June 12, workers have been lifting sand from the river again, but now by hand in an environment-friendly way as no one is allowed to extract sand with mining explosives.
The precious natural resource in the river is the unlimited sand. Locals say that the world's best sand is found here, and certainly the sand from Sylhet’s hilly rivers enjoys a very good reputation in the construction industry. Like any fast-developing country witnessing construction booms, sand is in high demand in Bangladesh.
The living standards of the workers in the Haor area developed around the Jadukata. Almost all working people lost their jobs because of non-settlement of leases due to legal complications and lawsuits in the high court.
Visiting the area today, the area is buzzing again with workers around the two designated quarries. Thousands of workers are lifting sand in small boats. The sand is being sold on to big traders for cash.
About 50,000 workers have returned to their old jobs. Each worker is earning Tk 1,500 per day.
Shukur Ali, a labourer from Miyarchar, said, "I was in a lot of trouble because of the pandemic as the river remained closed. I wanted to run away from home. But in the end I didn't have to go anywhere as the river opened. I can earn Tk 1,500 by lifting sand from the river."
He also said his family is spending their days happily now.
"I used to spend half a day starving as the river was closed. I am happy now with my family after opening the river," said Alamgir of Ghagtia village.
Every worker UNB spoke to expressed the same. It means the environmentalists’ concerns may be legitimate, but the court verdict has provided a final settlement that all parties must accept.