The Department of Archaeology has started an eviction drive from Tuesday against illegally built structures on the land of heritage sites in Jaintiapur upazila of Sylhet.
Heritage protection activists, however, claim that a major share of the sites remain under possession of influential land grabbers and several concrete structures have been built nearby that must be removed to preserve the sites.
Dr Ataur Rahman, regional director of the archaeology department, said these archaeological sites are protected under the department but most adjacent open grounds have been illegally grabbed over the years.
“With the support of local administration, we are conducting an eviction drive to recover the land belonging to these protected archaeological sites,” he said.
Abdul Hye Al-Hadi, chief coordinator of Save the Heritage and Environment, said, “Heritage sites belonging to the Jaintia kingdom are spread all over the upazila and most of them are facing threats of being destroyed due to illegal land grabbing. The archaeology department recently started an eviction drive but the sites must be monitored regularly through establishing a regional office in Sylhet.”
Mourin Kareem, upazila nirbahi officer of Jaintiapur, said the administration will continue supporting the archaeology department in evicting illegal structures and protecting the heritage sites.
“These sites are officially protected but as the only regional office of the department is in Cumilla, there are scopes of grabbing the land belonging to the sites,” the UNO said.
Dr Ataur said the department plans to establish an office in Sylhet to protect the heritage sites but lack of human resources remains an impediment in monitoring the archaeological sites.