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Sreemangal tourism under threat

Without procuring any permission from the Department of Environment, the illegal sand traders were excavating valuable silicon (Silica) sand from various places in Moulvibazar.

According to sources, the Tourists’ hub Moulvibazar is also famous for the Silica sand. This precious sand is found nowhere in Bangladesh except in Moulvibazar. But, due to the inactivity of the police and the local administration, the sand excavators are indiscriminately collecting the sand by destroying the local riverbeds, hillocks and cultivable land.

Mijan Shafiur Rahman, DIG, Sylhet Range while talking about the illegal sand excavation said, those who are destroying the environment will not be spared whatever influential they are. He said, he went to Moulvibazar in February and directed the Deputy Commissioner and the UNO of Moulvibazar to take stern action against all illegal sand excavators.

Director of Mineral Resources Development Bureau Abul Bashar Siddik Akon in this connection said, lease has been given to extract sand but no permission has been given to extract sand by destroying the environment.

It is learnt, 156 spots of Sylhet are famous for Silicon sand.

Of the spots, 39 are at Sreemongal of Moulvi Bazar, 1o each at Kamalganj and Rajnagar, 12 at Borolekha, six at Kulaura, three at Moulvi Bazar sadar upazila, 34 at Madhabpur, 29 at Chunarughat, nine at Bahubal and two each at Sylehet sadar upazila and at Fenchuganj.

According to sources, the lease holders are not only destroying the environment but also depriving the government by not paying revenues amounting nearly Tk 20 crore from 2016.

Farmer Abdur Rahim said, it will be a huge loss for us if we destroy the asset of our country. Due to digging large, deep holes, the banks of the rivers are being demolished. No crop will be cultivated in the lands due to excavating sand with shallow machines.

Farmer Hasan Mia said, there is no profit in filing complaint against the sand excavators from the crop fields. No action is taken against them from the Administration.  As a result, those sand excavators are turning desperated day by day.  Freedom Fighter Moazzem Hossain Samru said, hundreds of sand laden trucks are moving through Sreemongal every day.

None of those have any permission. Local Administration remained silent in this connection.

Dr. Urmee Binte Salam, Deputy Commissioner of Moulvibazar while talking to the Correspondent of a national daily newspaper recently said mobile courts are often operated by the Deputy Commissioner against the illegal sand traders.

She said, in addition to the administration, the local people should also be conscious to check the environmental degradation.

Advocate Begum Shah Safeda Akhter, Coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association (BELA) , Sylhet, informed it was necessary to take action against the illegal sand traders.

BELA was regularly contacting the local administration to take action in this connection, she mentioned.

Monjur Rahman, Superintendent of Police of Moulvibazar informed, the spots of Silicon sand have been leased out. Legal action will of course be taken if any one excavate sand without procuring any leasing agreement. He further mentioned no one has so far informed the police regarding the illegal excavation of sand by destroying the environment. If such allegation is received, action will surely be taken against it, he added.