It is disappointing to learn that stone extraction in Bandarban continues unabated despite a High Court directive and calls from the indigenous communities and environmentalists to stop such activities that are destroying the environment and natural resources of the area. The Daily Star ran several reports recently revealing the impact of indiscriminate stone extraction, sand-lifting, hill-cutting, and deforestation on the area’s environment.
Reportedly, in a span of only five to six years, countless springs and creeks, primary sources of freshwater for the indigenous people, have dried up in the remote areas of Bandarban, resulting in severe water shortage. According to a 2018 report of this daily, at least 200 streams have been affected so far. Many families in the remote areas of Bandarban had to leave their villages because of water shortage created by unrestrained stone-lifting and destruction of forests. Such illegal practices are also endangering the wildlife and biodiversity of the hilly district.
Meanwhile, local influential people, without paying heed to environmental laws and the clearly-spelt-out High Court directives in this regard, are continuing with stone-mining at Sangu and Matamuhri rivers. Amid such a situation, the High Court has again intervened and directed the authorities concerned to immediately stop these disastrous activities. Now, the onus is on the local administration to save Bandarban from desertification. They should heed the High Court’s call and take immediate action against those involved and take effective measures to stop illegal stone extraction once and for all.