Leaders of the environmental group express shock at government’s inaction
Accumulation of sand is endangering at least six villages in Tahirpur upazila of Sunamganj, Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) has found.
A team led by Bapa General Secretary Sharif Jamil visited the area on Monday, according to a press release.
They learnt through observation and from locals that farmland and marshes in Chanpur, Rajaniline, Rajai, Maram, Barungachara and Shantipur villages in the area have been severely damaged by sand accumulation.
The Bapa team during its visit saw that almost all homes in Chanpur, Rajaniline and Rajai had been inundated with sand.
Chanpur is located at the foot of the Meghalaya hills, and massive amounts of sand has accumulated everywhere in the village, including front yards, markets, roads and school premises. The sand has resulted in an increase in the number of people suffering from various respiratory diseases, on top of many losing their homes.
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A Bapa team earlier visited the area in 2007. Sand had been accumulating at the time, but not to the degree it was currently, according to the environmental group.
“In such circumstances, if the sand and rocks from the Khasia hills of India do not stop pouring in, the vast wetlands and haors of the area, including Tanguar Haor, will soon be filled,” Bapa said.
“Many marshes have already been buried under sand. There are no more signs of wetlands here,” it added.
Bapa leaders also expressed shock at the government’s inaction despite the issue having long been reported.
To protect the vast haor areas of Sylhet and Sunamganj, Bapa urged the authorities concerned to hold talks with India and take immediate measures to keep the unplanned, uncontrolled extraction of mineral resources and deforestation in India’s Meghalaya state in check, to prevent landslides that would cause sand accumulation in Bangladesh.
Bapa also demanded that the damage to water bodies and cropland across the country caused by sand and rock accumulation be properly assessed and stakeholders be adequately compensated.