Consequence of giving free hand to sand lifters
The killing of a farmer by a group of sand traders in Keraniganj, in the outskirts of the capital, on Tuesday morning is indeed a matter of serious concern. According to a New Age report published on Wednesday, while a number of farmers tried to prevent the sand traders from lifting sand from the River Dhaleswari near their farmland about 9:00am that day, the traders fired into at the farmers, killing one and injuring three others. Moreover, the farmers have been protesting against sand lifting by the same gang for six months, understandably, fearing that it could have an adverse impact on their land. On the other hand, the traders defied all such protests and continued to lift sand with dredgers. What appears, however, more intriguing is that although it is not clear from the report whether the sand traders have proper authorisation from relevant authorities to lift sand, they were doing it not at day time, but at night. One could be forgiven if s/he smells a rat in the matter.
Also, the manner in which the sand traders dealt with the protests of the farmers appears to suggest some sort of collusion between the former and the local administration, especially the law enforcement agencies. It may be worth noting that the administration was apparently in slumber while the farmers have been holding protests against the sand lifting in question for six months — quite a long period. Besides, the killing took place in the morning but no case was reportedly filed against the killers till 8:00pm on the day. Against this backdrop, it cannot be ruled out that the arrest of two of the gun attackers is just to ease the tension created among the local people after the incident.
With construction works alongside land-filling for various purposes thriving around the country, sand trade has become a lucrative business in recent decades. As such, extraction of sand from different sources, particularly rivers and canals across the country, has become rampant over the period, raising growing concern among experts and environmental activists who more often than not describe, and rightly so, it as dangerous for the overall environment. It is also pertinent to note that environmentalists hold the opinion that sand lifting must follow a particular guideline formulated in consultation with the experts concerned. Regrettably, however, the government is yet to pay heed to them. Worse still, it has virtually given a free hand to the sand lifters, understandably tied to it. Either way, the incumbents immediately need to deal with the case in question, seriously at least to prevent its recurrence, not to mention the issue of sand-lifting.
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