Social resistance against grabbers a must to protect Tangail, Gazipur hillocks16 May 2022 Editorial Desk
The geological feature of Modhupur Sal forests of Tangail and Gazipur is on the verge of extinction, owing to the greed of an influential quarter, which is cutting the hillocks, flattening them, and selling the soil to brick kilns. In many areas, these influential locals have also occupied the surrounding flatlands and cultivated different crops, fruits, and vegetables, by forging ownership documents.
A recent study by the environmental science and resource management department of Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University found that the hillocks in the region are transforming due to the growing commercialisation of land and expanding urbanisation and industrialisation. Even two decades ago, before falling victim to the soil traders' greed, there were numerous hillocks in Mirzapur's Gorai, Ajgana, Latifpur, Banshtail, and Tarafpur unions. The traders have also been extracting soil from the government's reserve forests surrounding the hillocks.
According to locals, excavators cut the hillocks in these areas at night and take the soil away on trucks, leaving the roads dusty. This also creates inconvenience for people living on the sides of roads. Mirzapur Upazila administration realised approximately Tk 50 lakh during multiple drives. However, the mayhem has not stopped. Many hillocks of the Sal forests have already been flattened in Delutia, Kachara and Baripara areas under Choura and Deopara, Gourishwar under Battala and Akander Baid in Sagardighi. Indiscriminate cutting of hillocks is also going on at adjacent Sakhipur, where grabbers have been occupying khas land. A section of influential people backed by politicians is active in hillock cutting due to the increasing demand for soil in different development projects. There is no alternative to conserving the beautiful natural assets for protecting the balance of the environment and biodiversity. The local administration should be vigilant to protect the environment by defying the land grabbers and the social resistance should be promoted thus they can act as the scout for law enforcers and green activists.