Tangail town protection embankment in Kalihati upazila is under threat due to rampant sand extraction from the Pungli river, a branch of Jamuna.
The embankment, also known as Silimpur-Karatia embankment, is also facing erosion as influential sand traders have been using it as a road to transport the sand on a large fleet of trucks.
Constructed in 2000 under Compartmentalisation Pilot Project (CPP) at a cost of Tk 120 crore, cracks already developed on east side of the 47-kilometre-long embankment between Pungli and Karatia.
Although the levy was damaged in Mohela, Agbethoir, Pachhbethoir, Shalina, and Bartha areas, necessary repair works were not conducted on it in the last 18 years, alleged locals.
Last year, only two damaged sections of the levy at Ramdevpur and Mohela were repaired with the help of locals, they said.
Sand is being lifting has been going on from the Pungli at various points alongside the levy and the sand trucks have been damaging the levy for several years, but nothing was done to stop the trade as influential people are behind the sand trade, they alleged.
They also said the frequent movement of the trucks on the earth-filled levy are also causing severe dust pollution in the area, resulting in respiratory problems for residents of nearby villages.
Villagers being run over by the trucks are becoming all too common, but they do not dare to complain against the trade due to the political backing of the traders, several of the villagers said requesting anonymity.
They also said the traders are so powerful that they resume sand lifting within a few days after mobile courts complete conducting drives in the area under local administration.
This correspondent was not able to reach any of the sand traders for their comments over the allegations.
However, the workers engaged in the sand lifting claimed that they were lifting sand from private land only.
Without any sight of action against the sand lifting or any significant repair work on the damaged sections of the levy, the locals are now in fear of being flooded in the upcoming monsoon season.
If the embankment is breached during the monsoon, vast tracts of area in Tangail town, Gala and Gharinda unions in Sadar upazila, and Karatia union and adjacent areas in Basail upazila could be flooded.
Contacted, Amit Debnath, upazila nirbahi officer of Kalihati, said his office did not receive any complaint regarding sand lifting along the embankment.
“However, we will investigate into the matter immediately and take necessary action,” he added.