Locals alleged that an influential syndicate is digging out sand without permission
The lives and livelihoods of more than one hundred families in Naikhongchhari upazila of Bandarban are facing serious threat as vast amounts of sand are being illegally extracted from a waterfall in the area.
The Khutakhali spring, located at 283 Eidgarh Mouza in Kagajikhola village under Baishari union of Naikhongchhari upazila, is becoming eroded and gradually less steep due to heavy sand extraction.
Locals alleged an influential syndicate is digging out sand without permission of the local union parishad authority or the department of environment.
Hundreds of tons of sand are being smuggled by dumper trucks every day in broad daylight. Due to this, the waterfall is changing direction and creating an environmental imbalance.
Though there is a police outpost just within a thousand yards from the extraction site, they are playing the role of silent observers.
Ruhul Amin, an owner of land in the area, said: “We have submitted written complaints to the administration against the illegal sand extractors, but have not received any remedies in response.”
Locals also said the syndicate is led by the local ruling party leader Md Aziz, who is a resident of Lailamapara village in Fashiakhali union. They are using dredging machines to extract sand from the falls and smuggling it by hundreds of dumper trucks.
Syndicate leader Md Aziz said: “By managing all sides, I have been extracting sand from the falls for a long time now. No one can stop the extraction operation.”
Hundreds of families living in Kagajikhola, Kalapara, Lailama and other nearby villages are now facing flood risks in the monsoon season.
The chronic sand extraction has created disproportionate holes and changed the course of the falls. In the upcoming rainy season, many houses in those villages might be washed away as the falls change direction.
Baishari Union Parishad (UP) Chairman Md Alam Company said: “Md Aziz and several others are extracting sand from the Khutakhali falls without any permit and tax. It will result in the destruction of hundreds of houses in the rainy season.”
In this regard, Environment Department Director (Cox’s Bazar Zone) Md Kamrul Hasan said: “The department has not given any permit to anyone for extracting sand in Naikhongchhari upazila. Action will be taken after investigating the matter.”