The government is formulating a policy on extraction of sand from rivers where night-time extraction will be banned said State Minister for Water Resources Zahid Faruk. The minister said this at a ‘BSRF Dialogue’ arranged by Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum at the secretariat on Monday. He said sand mining is the prime reason for river erosion and the business is booming though the investment is very low. Also read: Laxmipur UP Chairman Salim Khan can’t extract sand from Meghna: SC “We cannot stop sand extraction from rivers as it will increase the price of sand and different development projects will be hampered. We urge the concerned businessmen to follow government’s guideline but they mostly lift sand from the riverbanks where there are cement blocks, mud embankments. Even if we use iron made embankments it won’t last longer for sand extraction,” he added. The Minister said the proposed policy will soon be placed during cabinet meeting. “So we suggest the sand extraction can be done from 6 am to 6 pm so that everyone including the locals see the matter.” Regarding Teesta water sharing deal with India the minister said, “We are concerned about the Teesta deal and want to make it happen. The progress in this regard has slowed down due to the Chief Minister of West Bengal. We may soon be able to resolve the issue.” Zahid Faruk said “I have been keeping an eye on Sunamganj flood situation from the very beginning. A project worth Tk 1,547 crore has been taken to dredge 14 rivers there. We will try to get it passed by ECNEC by October and start activities before the next monsoon.” Also read: Flood situation worsens in Sunamganj, Sylhet; thousands marooned He said even if 20 percent of the work is done before the monsoon, there will be no more damage in the haor area of Sunamganj. BSRF President Tapan Biswas presided over the programme conducted by BSRF General Secretary Masudul Haque.
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. Read:Bus plunges into canal in Sunamganj, one dead, 5 injured 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." Read:Illegal sand mining goes on unabated in Kurigram 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.
A transboundary river shared by India and Bangladesh, Jadukata is known for its natural beauty. Gushing out of the Khasi hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya, the river flows through Sunamganj’s Tahirpur upazila -- an area that largely caters to Bangladesh's increasing demand for construction sand and stones. But rampant illegal sand and stone mining poses a grave threat to the river's existence. Read Illegal sand mining goes on unabated in Kurigram Moreover, abundant lenience of authorities, residents allege, encourages the local mafia to steal the illegally mined sand and stones often seized by police. Neither the local administration nor the police pay attention to it. Local people too just do not bother to object to these illegal activities. Read Jamuna loses battle to illegal sand mining in Sirajganj "The unauthorised mining activities not only lead to revenue loss to the government but also cause damage to the environment. This has going on for years," a local resident told UNB. On March 24, a task force comprising officials from the local administration, police, BGB and RAB seized large quantities of illegally mined sand and stones from various local traders. Read Also: Sand lifting puts homesteads, farmland under erosion threat in N’ganj