Sand is being lifted illegally from the mouths of three rivers, which converge in the Bay, for filling up the construction site of a privately owned power plant.
The 307 Megawatt coal-fired ISO Tech Power is being built in Nishanbaria area around five kilometres west of Taltali upazila headquarters. The sand is brought from the rivers to the construction site through eight-kilometre-long pipe.
The plant is being set up at a cost of around Tk 4,000 crore. Two private companies, ISO Tech Electrification Limited and Barishal Electric Power Company Ltd, are jointly setting it up and formally started construction work on June 25 this year.
Locals said a heavy dredger started lifting the sand from the mouths of the Baleshwer, Bishkhali and Payra rivers over three weeks ago and has been working continuously.
Al-Amin, a fisherman of Nishanbaria, said they cannot catch fish due to the pipes set up there, adding that they are passing hard days as they are not getting any income.
Sultan Sikder, a local resident, said Shuvo Sandhya beach and the adjacent forest land under the upazila are facing serious threat of erosion.
Taltali Upazila Forest Officer Nayan Mistri said erosion could be severe due to unplanned sand lifting from the river, and the reserve forest and beach would be affected badly.
“I have informed the district administration about the matter, asking them to take immediate steps in this regard,” he added.
Toufiquzzaman Tanu, chairman of Chotobogi Union Parishad, also lessor of balu mahal, said the company is lifting sand without permission, although it was told several times not to do so.
“I have informed the district administration about the matter as the company does not listen to us,” he said, adding that the administration should take immediate steps to stop illegal lifting of sand.
Murad, who supervises the sand lifting, declined to make any comment over the matter, but he gave the cellphone number of Md Moinul Alam, managing director (MD) of ISO Tech Electrification Ltd.
This correspondent tried several times to communicate with the MD, but in vain as he did not receive the calls.
Barguna Deputy Commissioner Md Kabir Mahmud said he joined recently and will take steps after talking with the officials concerned and also the power plant authorities.