Government buildings at risk of collapse, thousands of families in fear

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River erosion has started in villages along the Meghna River after the recent reopening of a Balu Mahal, which was closed for a long time due to the danger of river erosion in Ghazaria section of Munshiganj. Several government buildings are at risk of collapse and thousands of families in six villages on the banks of the river are spending their days in fear of collapse. A UP Chairman has filed a writ petition in the High Court to cancel the lease of Balu Mahal immediately in public interest.
On the surface, it can be seen that sand is being cut from the river with more than 100 dredgers at a distance of less than 600 meters from the under-construction Sholani power plant in Ghazaria section of Meghna river. It is known that in 2018, when the district administration wanted to lease this place for Balu Mahal, a person named Afsar Uddin Bhuiyan started a movement against it, claiming that there is a risk of river erosion. The person who protested against Balu Mahal has now got the lease of this Balu Mahal. For 2 crore 71 lakh rupees, he got the lease of 128 acres of sand extraction in Nayanagar, Sholani Kalipura, Char Ramzanbeg part of Ghazaria part of Meghna river. Locals complain that the amount of sand in the leased part of the river is low, so in the evening, the dredgers move the sand along the river bank. In this, several government facilities including Shoalani Coal Power Plant, Ghazaria Dockyard and Beige Station of Coast Guard, Ghazaria Launch Ghat are at risk of collapse. The re-introduction of sand banks in this erosion-prone section of the river has intensified the erosion in the river bank areas of Ismanichar, Goalgao, Nayanagar, Sholani, Bara Kalipura and Kandi villages of Tanu government.
Regarding the matter, Morshed Alam, a resident of Ismanichar village of the local Hossaindi union, said that river erosion has started in Ismanichar village on the banks of the Meghna for the past one month. At least hundred families of the village are spending sleepless nights in fear of collapse.
Salim Mia, a resident of Bara Kalipura village of Imampur Union, said that our village is already the most prone to destruction in Ghazaria. Every year we have to suffer from river erosion. This year, due to sand dunes, the damage has increased. Those who can afford it are moving away from the bricks.
Md. Salim Bhuiyan, executive director (engineering) of the power plant implementing company RPCL said, we are aware of the matter. A sand mahal has been leased very close to the site earmarked for our power plant. We are always keeping a watchful eye.
Imampur Union Parishad Chairman Hafizzuzaman Khan Jitu said that if you look at the web portal of the district administration, it is still given that the lease of Balu Mahal has been stopped as this place is very prone to river erosion. After being closed for a long time, sand extraction has started from there suddenly because this sand mahal was leased a few days ago. The Sholani power plant project and hundreds of families of Bara Kalipura, Tanu Sarkar Kandi village of my union are at risk of collapse. The chairmen of all the union councils of the upazila joined together and appealed to the district commissioner to cancel the lease.
Regarding the issue, the writ petitioner, Chairman of Hasaindi Union Parishad, Monirul Haque Mithu, said that since the opening of the Balu Mahal, river erosion has started in several villages of my union. I try to prevent breakage by dropping geo bags filled with sand. We have informed the district administration in writing about this matter, as they have not taken any action, I have filed a writ petition in this regard in the High Court in public interest. In my opinion, without proper hydrographics survey, sand mining has been purposefully leased out from places where there is a risk of river erosion. Justice K.M. The dual bench of Kamrul Quader and Justice Mohammad Sakhawat Ali Chowdhury has heard the matter several times, but no order has been issued yet.
Regarding the matter, Afsar Uddin Bhuiyan, the lessee of Balu Mahal, said, We have started Balu Mahal by following all the procedures. We are not extracting sand beyond the limits set by the district administration but some people are spreading confusion in this regard. As far as I know, there is no river breaking anywhere in this part of the river.
Begum Shamsunnahar, director of hydrography department of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) was asked about the matter, she said, about thirty places from Munshiganj district administration were sent to us to do hydrographic survey for lease of Balu Mahal. We didn’t allow most of them because there wasn’t enough sand. On the special request of the district administration, after hydrographics survey, we have submitted a report to the effect that 5/6 places with small amount of sand can be leased for sand mahal. However, there is also a risk of river erosion and instructions have been given to ensure that sand is not cut outside the specified boundaries.
Ghazaria Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md. Abdullah Al Mahfuz said, “I don’t have any papers related to hydrographics survey.” However, if the sand mahal lessee cuts sand from outside the specified boundary, I will definitely take action if I know about it. We will inspect and take action on the few places that you claim where the breakdown has started or is at risk of breakdown.

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