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Special zone planned to save Jaflong

  • Published at 08:34 pm December 26th, 2015

Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) has decided to establish a tourism park and a specialised stone crushing zone near Jaflong in Sylhet to protect the country’s popular tourists spot from being ruined, said officials.

The decision was made in the wake of unplanned stone crushing industry in Jaflong, around 55km north of Sylhet city. Jaflong is located in Gowainghat upazila of Sylhet district on border with the Indian state of Meghalaya.

The stone crushing industry in Jaflong has expanded in an unplanned way for the past two decades, BEZA officials said. They said such industrial set-up was harming the environment along with pollution, posing health hazards and affecting the tourism potentialities of the area badly.

Around 500 stone crushing units are in operation now in the area with many of them not legally established.

In such a situation, BEZA is working to build a stone crushing zone in a 133-acre land at Dibir Haor area in Jaintapur of the disctrict. Primary study was already done and a feasibility study is likely soon, according to the BEZA officials.

“There are around 500 stone crushing units in Jaflong area. Among them, some are allowed by the local administration, and most of them are running illegally,” BEZA Executive Chairman Paban Chowdhury told the Dhaka Tribune.

The Piyain river, which also has tourism potentialities in of Jaflong, is on the verge of destruction mainly due to unplanned stone crushing units.

“We are destroying nature and tourism gradually. It is an offense. As we have a duty to protect the area, we have taken some intiatives,” he said.

“Primarily, we have decided to build the zone in a 133-acre land, but it will need around 200 acres of land for construction of roads, buffer zone plantation etc in a planned way,” said Paban.

He hoped that the process for construction of the zone would be ended in next two years.

“Although it will not be profitable for BEZA, but we have taken up the initiative for the sake of protection of tourism industry in Jaflong,” BEZA executive chairman said.

Official soucres said BEZA would develop the stone crushing zone in a planned way so that people could also visit and see how the things worked.

Meanwhile, BEZA has also taken a plan to establish a tourism park in 255 acres of land near Tamabil Land Port in Sylhet.

Officials said In association with relevant government agencies, BEZA would develop roads, develop park and construct high-rise towers in the area so that Indian mountains could be seen from Bangladesh side from the park. The park will be established at the Bangladesh-India bordering area.

“We can build a border economic zone if India agrees and that will be excellent. The park will increase trade between the two countries,” Paban Chowdhury expected.

He said two of the proposals on the related matter were primarily approved by the Board of Investment, Bangladesh on Tuesday.

BEZA sent a letter to the Cabinet Division secretary requesting him to organise a meeting between Prime Minister’s Office, Shipping Ministry, Roads and Highways Department and District Administration to discuss the issue.

It is estimated that over 1,000 people visit Jaflong and Bichanakandi daily to see the natural beauty of Piyain river. The number is expected to rise further once the zones are in operation.