The First Geological Museum in the country is going to be in the Environmentally Critical Area
By Zeba Tarannum
The Bangladesh Bureau of Mineral Resources Development (BMD) plans to set up the country’s first ‘geological museum’ by halting stone extraction at the Environmental Crisis Area (ECA) in Jaflong, Sylhet.
Recently, the BMD informed the Gowainghat Upazila administration about the plan in a letter in preparing to remove the stone by hanging a signboard with the High Court’s instructions. Nazmus Shakib, Upazila Executive Officer (UNO), confirmed this information to a National Daily News Paper.
According to the Upazila administration, Jaflong was directed to declare ECA in 2012 at the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA). A notification was issued on February 18, 2015, declaring Jaflong an ECA.
On January 11, 2016, the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources said Jaflong a ‘geological heritage.’ In this, 22.59 acres of land in Jaflong was declared reserved.
An organization called M/S Jalalabad Lime Manufacturers and Trading Association, in a letter dated August 17, demanded the acquisition of the protected area in Jaflong in 1972 by the ECA and Geological Heritage and recently started preparations to remove the stone by a high court order.
After the signboard was hung there, a report was published in Prothom Alo, a Daily Newspaper on September 14, 2020, under the headline’ Preparations are underway to extract the stone’.
BMD sources said, in terms of the report published in the local Upazila administration and Prothom Alo Jafar Ullah, Director General, BMD informed the concerned people, including the Upazila administration, about the latest situation through a letter.
The Director General’s letter stated that a geological museum would be set up in the area identified as a geological heritage in addition to the Jaflong ECA-listed site. Another organization, including M/S Jalalabad Lime Manufacturers and Trading Association, should refrain from lifting stone at that place.
A Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) outpost is likely to be damaged if stones are quarried in and around Sonatila in Jaflong with a ‘mine lease.’
In the context of setting up a geological museum, the letter further said that in the national interest, 25.59 acres of land had been declared a geological heritage for the conservation and research of open rock layer, limestone at that place in Jaflong.
An international standard geological museum will be built on that land. Plans have already been made to construct the museum through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. This museum will be attractive to domestic and foreign tourists. In the interest of national security and in implementing the government’s development plan, BMD is also preparing to deal legally.
Nazmus Shakib, Gowainghat UNO, told Prothom Alo that the letter signed by the Director-General of BMD was sent on Thursday. After receiving this letter, the Upazila administration is ready to provide overall assistance to BMD.
Meanwhile, Afsar Uddin, the Managing Director of the Jalalabad Lime Manufacturers and Trading Association, claimed that he did not know anything about the BMD’s letter. He said, “We have taken up position in the acquired area in Jaflong under the direction of the high court.” We have acquired land from the government with money.
If stones are taken from there, rent (money) will also be given for this. If this place is preserved now, we must address the issue with compensation for the land we have acquired.