Illegal stone crushing is causing environmental and noise pollution in Burimari land port area under Patgram upazila, but it has continued unabated in spite of drives by mobile courts against the crushers.
Mobile courts formed jointly with the upazila administration and the Department of Environment (DoE) conducted five drives in the last six months, said Patgram Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Noor Qutubul Alam, adding that 18 stone crushing machines were destroyed, six cases were lodged and a total of Tk 1.,40 lakh was realised as fine.
Anowar Hossain, 55, a schoolteacher in Burimari village, said the stone crushers have made their lives miserable due to the dust and horrible sound. “We can't stay in our homes comfortably due to the sound, and we can't walk on the road due to the dust,” he added.
“It isn't possible to walk without covering the face and nose as the area remains dusty due to stone crushing,” said Noor Islam, 52, a trader in the land port area. The machines are run all day and even at night, he alleged.
“Students and teachers cannot attend to lessons and work due to the horrid sound of the stone crushers,” said Ufarmara Government Primary School Headmaster Aliar Rahman.
They protested against the illegal stone crushing several times, but to no result, he added.
Abdul Karim, 46, a trader in Burimari bazar, said occasional drives by the administration have not helped to keep the area free from environment pollution. “If the administration takes stern action, the owners will not dare to run their machines round the clock,” he said.
Sirajul Islam, 45, owner of a stone crusher, said they are crushing stones imported from India and Bhutan, and 10 to 12 labourers run each crusher. “We use water on the stones during crushing to keep the area dust-free,” he said. “Stone crushing is our legal business and we are operating the machines by the roadside due to lack of a safe zone here,” Sirajul said.
DoE acting Deputy Director in Rangpur Mezbah Ul-Alam told this correspondent that around 400 machines are being run illegally in the land port area and polluting the environment. “Due to shortage of manpower, we cannot conduct more drives,” he said, adding that DoE will go for tougher action against illegal stone crushers with the help of the local administration.
“They use water during crushing stones, but not in sufficient quantity. They also run the machines near schools, colleges, health centres and residential areas,” the UNO said, adding that drives against illegal stone crushers will continue.