Thousands of people of the three unions namely Chanpur, Charmodua, and Sreenagar unions have lost their houses to river erosion caused by the illegal sand lifting
Illegal sand lifting in Meghna river has contributed to river erosion during this rainy season, destroying hundreds of houses of locals in the char areas of Raipura upazila in Narsingdi.
Thousands of people of the three unions namely Chanpur, Charmodua, and Sreenagar unions have lost their houses to river erosion caused by the illegal sand lifting.
They are currently living under the open sky which has added to the woes of villagers who have already been battling the Covid-19 outbreak.
Besides, many schools, colleges, mosques, graveyards, and health complexes have been devoured by the Meghna river.
Locals said the vacuum in the river bed caused by the illegal sand lifting has accelerated river erosion in this rainy season.
In the last 10 days, at least 90 homes and a vast tract of cropland were destroyed by river erosion in three unions.
According to the locals, the district administration has leased out three spots of the river for lifting sand in the Sreenagar union.
But taking advantage of lack of monitoring, influential people are lifting sand from other areas using at least 20 dredger machines from the river bank, leaving the authorized sand quarries.
This correspondent recently visited the unions and spoke to several villagers of the char areas in the upazila.
They alleged the illegal sand lifting caused a vacuum in the river bed. Therefore, every year at the beginning of the monsoon many houses go into the river.
Farmer Bozlul Haque from Palashtali village of Sreenagar union, said they are losing their ancestral land to river erosion.
"We are now helpless after losing everything." he added.
Ajgor Miah, a resident of Kalikapur village of Chanpur union, said in the last three years hundreds of houses were devoured by the Meghna River.
"In the last week at least 18 houses had gone into the Meghna river because of illegal sand lifting." he said
Chanpur Union Parishad Chairman Md Momen Sarkar said sand quarries need to be stopped if we want to stop river erosion.
Moslem Uddin Ahmed, president of Chanpur union Awami league said: "Locals of the char areas are living elsewhere after losing their homes to river erosion.
"The administration has leased out sand quarries to sand lifters, but they are not lifting sand from the designated quarries. Sand lifters are extracting sand from the whole river."
Contacted, Narsingdi Deputy Commissioner Syeda Farhana Kawnine, said: "If sand lifters extract sand outside the authorized quarries, they will face legal actions. The sand lifting causes river erosion, it must be shut down."
"The people who have lost homes will be rehabilitated." said Kawnine.
"A project to tackle the river erosion in Chanpur and Charmodhua unions is awaiting approval from the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec). If the project is sanctioned, the river erosion can be solved." the DC added.