Rampant sand lifting from the rivers also puts the proposed International Cricket Stadium, Aricha Naval port terminal, weather office, Aricha-Zafarganj Protection Embankment and hundreds of houses and educational institutions on the verge of extinction.
Paying no heed to the repeated plea of the locals, the ruling party leaders Mahabur Rahman Jony, Muktijuddha Projommo League President Osiur Rahman Siko, Muktijuddha Projommo League General Secretary Bishwajit and Monir Hossain are doing brisk business with illegal sand lifting.
Locals alleged that illegal sand lifter gangs are lifting sands with at least 15 dredgers from Zafarganj ghat area to Patuaria Feri Terminal in collaboration with the local administration.
However, local administration said they could not take actions against the illegal sand lifters, as they were powerful and ruling party men.
Selim Reza, deputy director of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) Aricha, said: “According to Port Act, 1908 and Port Rules, 1966, sand lifting from port’s adjacent area is totally illegal. But ruling party leaders are lifting sands from Meghna and Padma rivers illegally with at least 15 high-powered dredgers.”
Selim Reza, also the Port and Transport official, said: “Though we know everything about the sand lifting gang, we could not take actions against them as they are so powerful.”
On condition anonymity, several leaders of ruling Awami League alleged that illegal sand lifters were trying to tarnish Awami League’s image. They urged district administration and party leaders to stop the gang to save Padma and Megha embankment’s people.
Shibaloy upazila Chairman Ali Ahsan Mithu said: “Several greedy leaders of Awami League are lifting sands from the rivers illegally, but they should be stopped.”
These leaders also pointed out party’s powerful young leader Mahabur Rahman Jony as the ring leader of the sand lifters’ gang.
Mahabur Rahman Jony confessed that he had a high-powered dredger near Aricha Naval Port terminal and he was lifting sands illegally from the rivers.
Kamal Rashed, Shibaloy upazila nirbahi officer, said: “We have confiscated several pipes and dredgers from the river and destroyed them. We will conduct drives against the illegal sand lifters soon.”