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Illegal sand lifting from Arial Khan, Kumar Rivers in Madaripur goes unabated

  • Published at 05:16 pm July 6th, 2020
Dredging machine is being used to illegally lift sand from the Arial Kha River at the west Raghurampur area in Madaripur <strong>Dhaka Tribune
Dredging machine is being used to illegally lift sand from the Arial Kha River at the west Raghurampur area in Madaripur Dhaka Tribune

The flow of water in the river is changing courses, and locals are becoming subject to multifarious losses

While the local administration is busy  dealing with Covid-19 pandemic, some swindlers, blessed by local influential people, are utilizing this opportunity and lifting sand from several areas at different places in Shibchar, Kalkini and Sadar upazilas of the district.

According to local sources, hundreds of houses, schools, mosques and markets are at risk due to the illegal dredging  from Arial Khan, Kumar and Kirtinasha rivers in Kalkini, Mostafapur, Raghurampur, Chilachar, Tekerhat, Shibpur and Rajoir areas.

Several roads and different establishments, including a vast area of croplands, have already gone into the rivers.

Requesting anonymity, some people of Raghurampur village of Chilarchar union under Sadar upazila said the people in the area did not dare to bring allegations against the sand lifting as local influential persons are involved with it.

The flow of water in the river is changing courses, and locals are becoming subject to multifarious losses.

But the administration is deaf to the matter which has triggered the illegal practice, alleged locals.

Panic has gripped inhabitants of the village due to the large scale erosion. Locals informed a vested quarter is lifting sand illegally from the river banks with ‘bangla dredger’.

Thousands of people of Shibchar, Kalkini, Mohisherchar, Mostofapur, Chilarchar and Raghurampur areas use the important Madaripur-Shibchar Road regularly, but due to the erosion, some riverside houses and croplands have gone into the river.

A teacher of Raghurampur School, seeking anonymity said: “One portion of the road has been damaged. Some houses and croplands have also been destroyed.”

“Ruling party men are involved with the illegal dredging,” he said.

Sometimes the illegal sand lifters have engaged in clashes over establishing supremacy in sand query. 

When contacted, Chilarchar UP chairman Babul Sarker said the sand lifting is going on outside of his area.

While visiting Kalkini upazila, it was known that some influential people are lifting sand illegally with dredger machines from the southern part of Asmot Ali Khan Bridge to Alinagar in the upazila.

Rajon Mahmud, environmentalist and founder director of Friends of Nature, Madaripur said that in the last few years, more than 500 ponds were filled up with the lifted sand from the Arial Khan River in Madaripur town.

Massive dredgers and hundreds of labourers are used in the extraction of sand, and loading boats and trawlers with it. 

With habitual arrogance, they continue to engage in their act, which has eventually resulted in the changes in the Arial Khan’s natural flow.

Floods have become an annual occurrence in areas on the banks of the river. At the same time the syndicates fill the nearby lands, wetlands and water bodies around the capital with the sand extracted.

Apart from expediting Arial Khan’s choking, and, finally death, the unabated sand lifting spells an environmental doom for the greater southern region, said the environmentalist. 

As seen in almost every sector, the illegal sand extractors are smoothly getting away with their acts of killing a high-stream river. The long arm of the law cannot reach them.

The criminals, blessed by local influential people, have swooped down also on the relatively small and obscure rivers. It is now happening all over the area.

Kalkini upazila parishad vice chairman Shahidul Islam said when administration people are busy handling the Covid-19 situation, some illegal sand lifters became busy utilizing this opportunity at 15 spots of the upazila, threatening the environment.

 “I have already informed the local administration and asked to conduct drives in the areas,” he said. 

Deputy Commissioner Md Wahidul Islam said: “We have already taken steps to stop illegal sand lifting. Mobile courts conducted drives in several areas and destroyed dredger machines.”