Extraction of white clay: ethnic community now in danger

Rampant extraction of white clay in Dhobaura upazila in Mymensingh district has put the ethnic community at risk by devouring their property and way of life, civil society platform Nagorik Uddog said.

A team of ten members from the platform had visited the upazilas of Dhobaura and Durgapur from April 8 to 10. The findings were presented yesterday at a briefing held at the Dhaka Reporters Unit.

For all the latest news, follow the Daily Star’s Google News channel.

While clay mining has been suspended for two years in Netrokona district’s Durgapur upazila thanks to a court ruling, it is in full swing in Dhobaura upazila, said Robaet Ferdous, a professor at the University of Dhaka, during the presentation of the results.

The extraction of white clay at Vedikuri mouja in Dhobaura has caused an ecological disaster; jeopardized the livelihoods of Hajong, Mandi and other ethnic groups; damaged hills, forests and wildlife; polluted water and food security at risk, he said citing indigenous communities.

An entire community known as the Hodi community was wiped out from Durgapur, while there is no trace of 11 families belonging to the Hajong community.

Barely 11 months ago, the wild rabbit was available there. But it is no longer seen in the locality due to clay mining.

Extraction of the white clay has disrupted agricultural activities as the extraction has caused waterlogging.

“Roads are damaged and noise pollution has increased in the mining area. This area has become completely unlivable,” Ferdous said.

The indiscriminate mining has created a deep gorge, which is causing landslides in the area, sometimes even killing community members.

Since 1974, 37 people have died in two upazila slipping down their throats.

The platform presented ten demands to the government to immediately stop the devastation and protect the indigenous community.

Demands include the immediate cessation of extraction, compensation and rehabilitation of those affected, restoration of the ecological balance in the area, guarantee of the absence of adverse effects on the locality during the white clay extraction, constant monitoring and inventory of affected people and damage assessment. is inflicted on them.

Companies digging the area for clay have not obtained any clearance certificate from Mymensingh Ministry of Environment, Forid Ahmed, Division Manager of DAE in Mymensingh, told the Daily Star.

“Not only did we raise objections at the meeting,” he said, adding that due to a court order, they could take any action against them.

Mamunur Rashid, deputy director of the Bureau of Mineral Development which oversees the region, told the Daily Star that the companies had obtained a court order to extract the clay.