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Illegal sand lifting destroying Padma embankment

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09th-Jan-2017       
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INDISCRIMINATE and illegal sand lifting from the Padma has now become a major reason for quick erosion of its banks while causing damage to its flood-protection embankments in some places of Rajshahi city besides four Upazilas in the district. Concerned authorities in-charge of monitoring the river's maintenance has turned a blind-eye not because of unprofessionalism, but seemingly for the preferential treatment shown to local political leaders directly linked to the current AL regime.

Some eight sand traders, who managed to get lease of the eleven designated sand quarries are purportedly lifting sand from outside the designated sites randomly. According to District administrative officials, the Organising Secretary of the Rajshahi City AL and also the kingpin of the trading group is in full control of conducting the trade. The rest of the trade members are AL politicians at different stages and capacities too. However, spot visits conducted by reliable news sources suggests that the dredging operations for lifting sand has gone well beyond the designated sand quarries.  Moreover, according to lease documents, the traders are not supposed to dredge at night, but illegal sand lifting is also happening by the night time too.

What's unacceptable is that, according to Additional Deputy Commissioner (revenue) of Rajshahi, dredging activities after leasing out the sand quarries were not monitored since 'no one filed any complaints'. Do our local administrative authorities only act in response to formally lodged complaints? Don't they have any other responsibilities with regard to overseeing of public land and properties?

At a more technical stage, erosion is a natural river trend but, it can be accelerated at dangerous speed due to unplanned random dredging and sand lifting. Moreover, it can seriously hamper the natural balance and water flow of a river, leading to dramatic and unforeseen changes such as increased erosion while causing massive damage to embankments.  

Question automatically arises - who is in-charge for both monitoring and maintaining Padma's embankments and its surroundings? Who is there to regulate and stop the ongoing illegal sand lifting crimes?

According to the Chief of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association, no environment assessment was done before leasing out the designated sand quarries to traders. Why wasn't any environment assessment done before leasing out the designated spots?

Markedly, an unholy nexus of local politicians of the current regime has indulged in quick profiteering by damaging the environment unlawfully. They have blended politics, corruption, environmental destruction, to the art of quick and illegal money making altogether.

We draw the government's sincere attention for addressing this organised crime before it looms at large.     


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