Sand grabbers are teeming on the banks of the rivers Meghna, Padma and Sitalakkhya in Munshiganj and Narayanganj. Every year they are digging up the sand and taking away acres of crop land. They have a strong syndicate with backing from senior levels in politics and the administration. The hapless people of the chars or river islands, and those living on the river banks, protest in vain.
The term ‘syndicate’ is used nowadays in Bangladesh for such unscrupulous forces. The people of 10 villages in Sonargaon, the historic capital of Bengal during the days of the Sultanate, are now victims of this syndicate. Saturday’s Prothom Alo published a photograph of a human chain formed by these people on the banks of the river. The media regularly publishes reports on the wrongdoings of these sand syndicates the people’s protests against them.
Only recently these sand grabbers clashed with local residents in Munshsganj, leaving seven people shot and many more injured. Such incidents take place regularly. The villages of Nunertek, Sonargaon, have been embroiled in a movement and a legal battle for the past few years, trying to save their char. Even the United Nations has appealed to the government to protect Nunertek. But all in vain. The source of the sand grabbers’ power is apparently the influential leaders of the ruling party. So why will they bother about the common people? But the administration should take action before the situation goes from bad to worse.
Sand is required for construction, but there are rules and regulations for this. It is unlawful to extract sand from anywhere other than the sand sites determined by the district administration. How long will the criminal activities of these sand grabbers continue?
Everyone knows about the sand grabbing of Nur Hossain, the main accused in the Narayanganj seven-murder case. He is behind bars in Kolkata jail, but the sand theft hasn’t stopped. The silence of the district administration in this regard is unpardonable.
If the government has an iota of respect for rule of law, if their have any responsibility towards the farmers and the fishermen who give us our food, then they must catch and convict the sand grabbers.