Netrakona: Unauthorized soil collection from Durgapur upazila of bordering Netrakona district is threatening existence of the inhabitants here.
Lifting of ‘white soil’ (locally called Sada Sona (white gold) from the bottoms of hills at Bijoypur in the upazila continues unhindered causing much harm to lives and habitats of the population here, that mostly comprises ethnic minority people.
Bijoypur surrounded by Garo hills on the bank of the Someshwari River is enriched with natural resources like white soil, presenting exquisite natural scenery.
Co-existence of the people of different ethnic communities, including Garo, Hajong, Coach, Banai, Hadi, Bhalu and Rajbangshi, with Bangalees in the upazila has made life here diversified.
A number of companies have continued illegal lifting of the ‘white soil’ from the hills, hillocks and even plain lands over the years, earning millions of taka.
Such insensible soil extraction has caused huge depletion of the vast greenery of scenic Durgapur upazila.
Many of the ethnic community people have lost their dwelling houses as well for the soil lifting which has also created a sharp decline in arable land.
A total of eight people have so far drowned in trenches caused by soil lifting since after the country’s independence.
Ranjit Khatriye, a resident of the area, said Rit Hajong, son of Rajkimar Deborshi of Changarah village, Lagaj Risil, son of Dherij Resar of Gaimara village, Jewel Taju, son of Biresh Sal of Gucchagram, Diganta Sal, son of Daniel Remar of Gaisara village and Dilip Mankin, son of Benedict Russel of Maijpara village, and three others unidentified have lost their lives in the trenches.
Besides, for unplanned soil lifting, cracks have developed in many of the major points of the road from Kamarkali Bazar to Charuapara, leaving the road unfit for vehicular movement.
Mohammad Bacchu Mia, a trader of the area, said they collect ‘white soil’ from the area and transport it to different districts including the capital.
Some local people urged the government to take an initiative to force the companies into abiding by the existing rules in extracting ‘white soil’ from the area.
Saidul Hossain Akunji, former chairman of Durgapur upazila, said they have already sent a written complaint to the Prime Minister seeking her intervention in this regard.