Some local influential traders have continued illegal sand lifting from the Louhajang river, a branch of Jamuna, in Kalihati upazila, creating a threat of erosion.
The sand traders are using 15 powerful dredgers in Pathailkandi and Dhalatengor areas of Elenga municipality for lifting sand from the river, locals said.
They also cut earth on the river bank with excavators.
The extracted sand and earth are kept piled beside the river and later taken away from there on trucks.
Local people cannot stop the illegal activities as the sand traders are local influential people having political clout, said villagers.
Local administration launched mobile court drives against the illegal sand lifters and burned the dredgers and other equipment, but every time the sand traders went back to the business after a few days, they added.
According to Sand Fields and Soil Management Act of 2010 (Balu Mohal O Mati Babosthapona Ain, 2010), extracting sand from open places and from the river bed for commercial purposes is a punishable offence, said Mehedi Hasan, a green and rights activists in Kalihati.
The sand and earth traders, however, have continued lifting sand and cutting earth from the river and its bank for the last few years, defying the government laws and leaving a number of riverside croplands, dwelling houses, a government primary school and a mosque at Pathailkandi area under threat of erosion, he said.
Earlier, vast tracts of croplands in the areas went into the riverbed due to the unplanned sand lifting, he said.
Though local people lodged complaint to the local administration as well as land office, the illegal sand lifting is still going on, he alleged.
None of the sand lifters could be reached to make any comment over their activities.
Contacted, UNO Amit Debnath, who joined the office recently, said he was not informed abut the matter.
Legal steps will be taken in this regard after investigation, he added.