Chandpur minister siding with illegal sand lifters
People illegally extracting sand from the Meghna have links with a female minister from Chandpur, said the chief of the National River Conservation Commission yesterday without naming the minister.
The only female minister from Chandpur is the education minister.
NRCC Chairman Manjur Ahmed Chowdhury also said river encroachers have political clout behind them.
He was addressing an event titled "Rivers of Bangladesh: Definition and Number" at the Cirdap Auditorium in the capital.
"One person extracted 668 crore cubic feet (cft) of sand from the Meghna. That sand is worth over Tk 6,000 crore. His theft was legitimised when he was asked to pay a royalty of Tk 267 crore," said Manjur.
Terming the encroachers "hyenas", the NRCC chief said, "They have attacked the Meghna in packs. Efforts are being made to extract sand from the Meghna again. Sand will be extracted with hundreds of dredgers. It will damage the river, the fish, and the environment. The rivers cannot be protected from them."
Manjur said the Karnaphuli was being sold in the name of leasing out.
"The shipping ministry, Chattogram Port Authority and the district administration are involved in this process. Chattogram City Corporation joined hands with them lately," he said.
"The Karnaphuli is a very important river from the point of view of environment. It is also an economically important river. By declaring special economic zones, the land of the river is being split and the river is being killed," he added.
Former deputy director of NRCC Akhtaruzzaman Talukdar presented the keynote address at the programme.
He said there are 1,008 rivers in the country and the Padma is the longest.
Meanwhile, Waterkeepers Bangladesh yesterday observed World Rivers Day by holding programmes in Dhaka and 11 other cities.