Sand traders choke New Dhaleswari to transport sand
An influential sand trading syndicate has built three roads across the New Dhaleshwari river, cutting off its flow at Kalihati in Tangail to transport sand extracted from the nearby Jamuna river.
The roads near the confluence of the Jamuna and Dhaleshwari have also stopped the water flow into the rivers’ downstream, which rejuvenates all the four rivers of the capital during the monsoon.
The syndicate is led by Hazrat Talukder, former chairman of Gohaliabari union, local sources said, adding that several local Awami League leaders have been earning crores of taka from the business, after paying hefty bribes to different quarters.
Contacted, Hazrat denied being involved with the syndicate and said he had already wound up his sand business there.
Originating from the Jamuna at Gohaliabari union, the 63km long New Dhaleshwari channels water into the Bangshi and Pungli rivers, eventually feeding the Turag, Buriganga, Balu and Shitalakkhya, said officials of the Water Development Board (WDB).
The roads on the river were built last winter when the New Dhaleshwari becomes almost dry due to siltation from the river Jamuna. Sand-laden trucks now keep shuttling through the roads day and night, carrying the illegally extracted sand from near the Jamuna Bridge.
Locals said the roads would cause environmental disaster for the river systems of the region.
Although restraining river flows is a punishable offence, the sand traders’ activities continue unabated. Traders have illegally engaged dredgers in the Jamuna, just 1.5km from the Jamuna Bridge, endangering the bridge.
An inquiry team from the Bangladesh Bridge Authority (BBA) visited the area one and a half months ago and sent a letter last week to the Tangail deputy commissioner expressing concern, said site office engineers at the bridge.
Anisur Rahman Miah, the DC, claimed not to have received any letter, but said he had already launched a drive to seize the dredgers.
On a visit to the area two days ago, your correspondent saw the dykes, constructed with the mined sand, make the movement of hundreds of sand-laden trucks convenient. The dykes at Beltia and Shamshoil villages have obstructed the New Dhaleshwari and turned it dry.
The dykes have affected the area’s biodiversity and have been causing erosion in several riverside villages, said Motiul Alam Talukder, the Gohaliabari union chairman.
Besides, the dykes have left hundreds of fishermen jobless, he added.
The chairman of the nearby Salla union, Shamim Mamun Pramanik, said the dykes had likewise affected the people of his area.
Both the chairmen said they had raised the matter at upazila coordination meetings on several occasions.
Rafiqul Islam, Kalihati upazila nirbahi officer, said the issue was being taken seriously with a mobile court drive launched to evict the illegal sand traders.
“We have requested the local Water Development Board to cut the dykes immediately,” he said.
Mohammad Ali, executive engineer of WDB in Tangail and also in-charge of the river dredging project, said he would take immediate steps to demolish the dykes.
Source: The Daily Star