Home / Bangladesh / Rampant stone lifting from Dharla threatens ecology

Rampant stone lifting from Dharla threatens ecology

68Illegal and unabated lifting of sand and pebbles from the Dharla River and cultivable lands in many areas of Patgram upazila is affecting agriculture and threatening ecological balance there.
Patgram is one of the frontier upazila bordering Jalpaiguri district of  West Bengal state, India. The upazila is enriched with valuable pebbles and thick sand. Dharla, Shaniajan and Singimari rivers are flowing down through the upazila. During the rainy seasons the water gushing down from the upstream dumps tonnes of sand and pebbles in the area.
It is alleged that some dishonest people have been extracting the pebbles and sand from the river using dredgers for long. Several hundred machines are being used for sand and pebbles lifting from the cultivable lands, causing threat to the food security in the area.
District and local administration often conduct drives against the unauthorised and unplanned extraction. This brings immediate lull in the activities, but after some days the illegal quarrying starts.
They are extracting mineral resources from river beds and from deep down into the land violating environmental rules. A syndicate is active there. It is making huge amount of money ‘managing the administration’ through political influence.
In a recent study experts have said there is a possibility earthquake might hit the area. On April 25 this year, a major earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 or 8.1 in Richter scale hit Nepal, killing and injuring thousands of people.
Nepal is only 650km and Bhutan 278km away from Patgram.
When contacted the Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Patgram Noor Kutubul Alam said: “Sands and stones are being extracted from rivers and cultivable lands here using machine, locally called Boma machine, for long violating the rules of environment and mineral resources. We have tried our best to stop this by conducting drive and filing cases against the illegal sand lifter. We have seized 39 machines and burnt in May this year to stop lifting minerals. Currently, it is fully stopped.”