The Ministry of Shipping secretary admitted that currently sand mining is not taking place with a well organized plan
Discussants have put emphasis that the authorities should consult with the community and conduct hydrographic surveys before picking a site for sand mining and dredging to limit environmental damage and social disruptions.
They made the emphasis at a webinar titled "Thursday For Rivers" with an aim to engage different stakeholders on policy influencing activities, responsible for sand mining and riverbank erosion management.
The virtual discussion was organized by TROSA (Transboundary Rivers of South Asia) project, Change Initiative and Oxfam Bangladesh on Thursday.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), said people who live close to the rivers should have the right to give their opinions and the authorities must take their opinions into consideration before picking a site for sand mining.
"The deputy commissioners can't just give permission for dredging and sand mining without considering the social and environmental factors. They also need to sit with different stakeholders before declaring a site Balu Mahal [sand market]."
The environmental activist also said the government needs to keep track of how much money is coming from sand mining and dredging.
Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, secretary to the Ministry of Shipping, said it is true that currently sand mining is not taking place with a well organized plan and this is why hydrographic surveys are important.
"Pre-survey and post-survey are both equally important for sand mining. Pre-survey is important because we need to see if it could pose any threat to the environment and post-survey is important to assess if sand mining and dredging has done any damage to the community or environment," he said.
Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus, Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, Brac University, said: "Some private organizations are digging holes in the water and dredging without any permission. They need to be kept in check."
Mohammad Inamul Haque, chairman of Institute of Water and Environment, said people cannot just excavate materials without permission because some things need to stay in the water environment for ecological balance.