A mobile court yesterday awarded punishment to 14 people for illegally lifting sand near the Bangabandhu Bridge in Bhuapur upazila of Tangail.
Of them, 12 were both fined and jailed for different terms and two others were fined only, said Mohiuddin Faruqe, commander of Crime Prevention Company-3 of Rapid Action Battalion-12.
The court fined the 14 sand lifters Tk 21,50,000. Of the amount, Tk 9,50,000 was realised instantly, he added.
Executive Magistrate Kaiser Khasru, who led the court, handed out punishments to the sand lifters for defying the Balu Mohal O Mati Babosthapona Ain, 2010 (Sand Fields and Soil Management Act, 2010).
Earlier in the day, the elite force raided eight sand ghats (places for gathering extracted sand) in Pathailkandi and Govindasi areas, arrested the sand lifters and produced them before the mobile court later.
Organised syndicates of influentials have been extracting sand from the Jamuna river near the bridge in Bhuapur, violating the government order.
Though using dredger or lifting sand within five kilometres of the bridge is banned, they are using powerful dredgers there, posing a threat to the country's biggest bridge.
The mindless sand lifting near the sensitive spots stopped only for a few days after the district administrations sealed those spots through mobile court drives around three months ago, sources said.
The influential syndicates having ruling party clout again started lifting sand worth crores of taka from the same spots. They give a share of the money to a section of the ruling party powerful leaders, locals alleged.
However, the sand lifters claimed that they are using the spots as places for gathering extracted sand which they took from Sirajganj.
While visiting the area on Monday, this correspondent found that sand was being lifted from eight spots in Sirajkandi, Nikrail and Govindasi areas at the east end of the bridge.