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Why are there so many deaths in stone quarries?

  • Published at 03:40 pm February 28th, 2018
Why are there so many deaths in stone quarries?
"The higher the risk, the more is the money"- this is a common saying in stone quarries. Which is why, despite frequent mudslides, stone extraction never stops. At the same time, deaths occurring due to mudslides do not stop either. From 2017 to February 27 of this year, some 44 stone workers have died in Sylhet due to mudslides. Environmentalists have claimed that the frequent deaths are occurring because of the negligence of the District Administration, the Department of Environment and the police. According to them, those affiliated with the stone extractions are taking advantage of the poor financial conditions of the workers and using them in the quarries. Most of the labourers working in the areas bordering Sylhet such as Companiganj, Kanaighat, Gowainghat and Jaflong are paid on a daily basis. They are tempted with better wages if they can go deeper down the quarry holes. These workers dig deep into them in hopes of money, but lose their lives in mudslides while hauling up the stones. Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (BELA) informed that, from January 23, 2017 to January 2, 2018, some 37 workers died while extracting stones in the Shah Arpin Tila (hillock), Jaflong, Bichhanakandi, Lobhachhara and Bangla Tila areas. Five more workers died in Companiganj, Jaintapur and Lobhachhara in February. Sources at Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) said those who work in the quarries have no previous working experience.
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They go deep underneath the ground inside the fissures that have been created due to years of extraction in the quarries, which can measure up to 200-300ft underground. On February 25, five workers died in the quarry bordering Kalairag area of Bholaganj in Companiganj. They were crushed under a mudslide while secretly extracting stones from deep under the quarry at night. Sylhet Additional Superintendent of Police Shamsul Alam said: "Even though extracting stones by delving underneath the ground in the quarry areas is banned, workers still do it in hopes of getting better wages." Several quarry owners have admitted that, bombs are not often used to make explosions inside the quarries because of greater expense. That is why workers are used at night to avoid monitoring by the police and the task force, and it is a more profitable method. General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) Abdul Karim said: "The police and administration should be more vigilant about taking actions against the act of extracting stones at night."
Also Read — 4 workers killed in Sylhet stone quarry  
He added: "After visiting different quarry sites in Habiganj and Sunamganj in Sylhet, and other areas of Bangladesh, we came to know that workers are paid on a day basis. They are even given shelter by the quarry owners." Advocate Shah Shahed Aktar, coordinator of BELA's Sylhet division, said: "The Department of Environment is avoiding the whole issue by conducting poor operations. Cases are being filed, but no progress is seen. "The quarry owners come to know about the operations before they are conducted," continued Shaheda. "It can be easily understood that they have links in the administrative levels. Even after dying in the quarries, the workers do not receive any compensation." On the other hand, Director of Sylhet Department of Environment Salahuddin Chowdhury said: "We have limited resources but our operations are ongoing. We have even filed some cases against those who are involved with the death incidents in the quarries."
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