The historic Shah Arefin’s mound in Companyganj upazila of Sylhet is now on the verge of ruin due to continuous land digging and stone extraction illegally for the last two decades.
According to legend, Shah Arefin, one of the companions of Hazrat Shahjalal, used to take rest atop the mound during his expeditions in the Khasia hills in the area around 700 years ago. Now, that resting place, which comprises of less than one acre of the total 137.5-acre area of the mound, is the only thing that exists at this historic site.
The rest of the mound has turned into a dead swamp/ water body, with no part of the original mound left intact, while the houses along the side of the swamp are also threatened of eventual destruction.
The stone extraction at the government-owned mound began on a small scale in 2000. However, in 2009, a vested quarter managed the administration and began stone extraction there on a large scale illegally and it has been going on since then.
Also, at least 50 workers have so far died while extracting stones from the mound, but this mindless destruction of the environment never ceased.
The upazila administration taskforce along with the Department of Environment conducted numerous drives in this regard, but to no end.
In 2018, the district administration submitted a report identifying 87 involved in illegal stone extraction and land digging in the area, but no action has been taken against them yet.
And hence, this once popular tourist spot in Sylhet now has lost all its glory.