Indiscriminate sand lifting from the Ramnabad river poses threat to agricultural lands, flood control embankments and dwelling houses in Char Joybangla area under Galachipa upazila of Patuakhali.
A section of sand traders are lifting sand with 10 dredgers, Md Nizam Uddin Talukder, former deputy commander of Patuakhali Muktijoddha Sangsad, said in a petition recently submitted to Galachipa upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), seeking proper steps over the matter.
Following the petition, the UNO asked Galachipa assistant commissioner (Land) to investigate the matter.
“A char (land emerging from riverbed) appeared in the Ramnabad river between Pokkhia and Naluabagi village and local freedom fighters named it Joybangla Char. Md Khalilur Rahman, a prominent freedom fighter, also chairman of Patuakhali Zila Parishad, formally recognised it at a function on December 10 last year,” Nizam Uddin said is his petition.
“After a few days, a section of local sand traders started lifting sand with dredgers at Pakkhia and Naluabagi. As a result, agricultural lands, houses and flood control embankments faced threat of erosion,” the petitioner added.
During a recent visit to the area, this correspondent found eight dredgers engaged in lifting sand from the river.
Seeking anonymity, a dredger worker said, “We supply sand to develop the site of an under construction power plant in Dhankhali area under Kalapara upazila.
He claimed that they lift sand after leasing it from the government.
Nizam Uddin Talukder, on the other hand, said, “The sand traders took lease for lifting sand from the Golkhali river but they lift sand illegally from the Ramnabad river. Agricultural lands and houses are often damaged as lease conditions are often violated.”
If the sand lifting continues, adjacent agricultural lands and houses will face threat of erosion, said Md Kalu Hawlader, former member of Galachipa union parishad (UP).
“We are in fear of erosion as at least 10 dredgers lift sand round the clock from the area,” said Md Hanif Hawlader, a local farmer.
Md Anwar Hossain, a local resident, said flood control embankment on the river bank is also facing threat due to continuous sand lifting from the river.
Abdul Hadi, chairman of Galachipa UP, said several villages including Pokkhia, Charkhali, Boalia, and even Joybangla char face erosion threat due to the situation.
Md Nasir Uddin, chairman of nearby Golkhali UP, said erosion has already started in different areas of Naluabagi and Golkhali due to indiscriminate sand lifting from the river.
If the harmful activities are not stopped soon the flood control embankment will also be under threat, he added.
Moniruzzaman Litu, a sand trader who lifts sand from the river, said, “I took lease for sand lifting from the river for a year for Tk 38 lakh and I am lifting sand by following all the terms and conditions.”
“Some people lift sand illegally from the nearby areas, which poses threat to the lands, but I am not responsible for that,” he said.
Contacted, Suread Salehin, assistant commissioner (AC-land), said the ministry concerned as well as the UNO has issued an order to investigate the matter.
“In the daytime sand traders lift sand from the leased area of the Golkhali river but at night they lift sand from the Ramnabad river illegally. Conducting drive at night is too risky,” he said.
“We have already seized five dredgers from the river during a drive. I will submit report to the authorities after investigating the overall situation through proper field visits very soon,” he added.