Hill rock extraction goes on unabated in CHT | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 01, 2010

Hill rock extraction goes on unabated in CHT

Defying ban from forest and environment ministry, contractors continue using local rocks for construction works, much to the damage of environment in Chittagong Hill Tracts. The photo was taken from Alutila in Khagrachhari Sadar upazila on Monday.Photo: STAR

Rampant extraction of hill rocks is going on in the district defying the government ban and posing serious threat to environment.
Continuous collection of hill rocks develops silt and mud in nearby rivers, which is a major reason for untimely flooding in Khagrachhari. Illegal extraction also deprives the government of huge revenue from rock extraction.
At least 40 places have been marked in eight upazilas of the district where the illegal collectors gather hill rocks and sell them to local constructors for using those in various development work.
Under the very nose of security men and officials, the constructors are using the rocks in different development projects. The trade is mushrooming every day as they make windfall profit, sources said.
To legitimise the illegal construction materials, the contractors allegedly pay a hefty amount of bribe to the high officials at municipality, Local Government Engineering Department, Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board and Roads and Highways Department.
Local sources said, at least 1200 to 1500 maunds of hill rocks are collected a day especially during dry season in the eight upazilas of Khagrachhari.
The collectors sell them at Tk 30-35 a maund to the local constructors while the administration is also aware of the matter, they said.
This correspondent recently witnessed huge stockpiles of hill rocks at Alutila, Nunchhari, Champagat, Gugrachhari, Mohalchhara in Sadar upazila, Akhbari, Dharmopur, Ramsira in Matiranga upazila, Baradam, Babuchhara, Araimail in Dighinala, Kongchairipara, Simanapara in Panchhari, Sindukchhara, Karbaripara in Mohalchhari upazila, Jouthakhamar, Headmanpara in Ramgarh upazila and different parts of Laxmichhari and Manikchhari.
It was also found that the locally collected hill rocks were being used in the Tk11 crore Khagrachhari-Manikchhari road project under the title "periodic maintenance programme 2008-09".
The constructor was using those low quality rocks in connivance with the road and highways department officials, sources alleged.
Abul Kashem, a hill rock collector from Alutila, told this correspondent that he is not aware of any adverse effect of rock lifting. "Most of people here extract hill rock as it is profitable," he said.
Executive Engineer of Khagrachhari Roads and Highways Department admitted using local rocks for 38-kilometre Khagrachhari-Manikchhari road project.
"Constructors use local rocks only for base layer of roads. We permit this as those are fit to use", he said.
Hashem Mia, a construction labourer, however, said local rocks are also used for road carpeting.
Contacted over phone, Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Abdullah said, three separate committees headed by upazila nirbahi officers in Sadar, Dighinala and Panchhari have examined the quality of rocks.
There is no permission to extract or use the hill rocks as the committees found them below the standard, the DC said.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mohammad Maksuder Rahman said, at least six cases were filed with different police stations for illegally collecting and using local rocks. Police submitted charge sheets in all six cases, he said.
Divisional Forest Officer Ali Kabir said, he was not aware of hill rocks collection and their use. Action will be taken on receipt of detailed report, he added.

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