1.8 million cubic feet of stones lifted in a year
The Department of Environment (DoE) in Bandarban has filed two cases against 37 people for illegally lifting stones by dredging soil and cutting hills in Lama upazila of the district.
Sources in the DoE said that for almost a year, a syndicate of locals and outsiders removed at least 1.8 million cubic feet of stones from hills and adjacent streams (jhiri) at Fashiyakhali, Gazalia and Faitong unions, disregarding a ban issued by the court.
On February 24, a High Court bench, comprising Justice Md Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Ashraful Kamal, ordered a ban on stone lifting in seven upazilas of Bandarban, but the illegal activity continues unabated.
On July 18, DoE Inspector Naznin Sultana Nipa filed two cases with Lama police station under the Environmental Conservation Act, naming 25 suspects and 12 unidentified ones.
The accused in the cases include Md Mohiuddin, Jamal Uddin Fakir, Humayan Kabir, Omar Hamza, Monu, Md Enam, Md Farhad, Musle Uddin, Giyas Uddin, Yunus Sardar, Monsur, Hossain, Md Hamid, Ilias, Ahid, Md Mostofa Kamal Chhottu, Md Mizan, Md Mumin, Lokman, Md Osman, Ansar Uddin, Romesh, Md Yusuf, Najem Uddin and Muzibur Rahman.
DoE Inspector Nipa said: "Illegal stone lifting is one of the major causes of environmental degradation in the upazila. The accused will be brought to book after further investigation."
Lama police station Officer-in-Charge Opella Razu Naha said that the police and DoE confiscated five million cubic feet of stones that was illegally lifted, and found sufficient proof of a total of 1.8 million cubic feet of stones in one year.
Lama Upazila Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nur-E-Jannat Rumi said: "We will not spare those responsible for illegal stone lifting and environmental degradation. Justice will be served to all the criminals gradually."