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Indian sand from upstream ruins vast tracts of fertile land
Saturday, 03 December 2016

Sand brought by water flowing in from India has covered about 3,500 acres of fertile land, resulting in damage to the ecology and destruction of livelihoods of thousands of families in Sunamganj.

The affected villages are Chanpur, Rojoni Line, Maram, Burungamara and Rajai under Taherpur upazila.

Deputy Director of Sunamganj Department of Agricultural Extension, Zahedul Haq said flash floods caused by coal mining upstream in India bring in a huge amount of sand. He said he had visited the area and reported the matter to the higher authorities.

Zahedul, however, said the actual area covered by sand is less than what the people say.

Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon Sharif Jamil told this correspondent that it is not the first time that the people in the border areas in the upazila are facing such problems, adding that steps have to be taken by both Bangladesh and India to protect the people, biodiversity and economy.

Jamal Uddin, former chairman of Borodol Uttar union, said at least 3,500 acres of fertile land have become covered by sand in the past eight years, halting agricultural production in the district.

He said the crisis was triggered on July 20 in 2008 when a landslide buried the houses, roads and paddy lands in North Bordol and around the floodplains of the Jadukata river, adding that unplanned and unregulated mining upstream of Taherpur is the root cause of such landslides.

President of Chanpur Bazar Committee Abdur Razzak said many lowlands have become barren due to mining in Meghalaya, and there have been reports that fish have died for unknown reasons in Jadukata river. So the impact is not limited to only Bordol or Taherpur, it has a larger impact in and around the Tanguar Haor and Surma Basin, he added. 

Andru Sholomar, a leader of the Khashi community, and resident of Rajai village, who lost 20 acres of arable land to sand intrusion, said he could not produce any crop on the land over the past few years, although he produced harvests thrice a year previously.

He also said he had lost three more acres of land in the past two weeks because of the sand brought in by the rain-triggered floods from the nearby hills in India.

Locals said the government was yet to take any initiative for saving the area\'s ecology or removing the sand by excavation or dredging.