Deadly mining of white clay, Bangladesh

Mining of white clay (kaolin), used in ceramics, cosmetics, and other uses, has destroyed hills, forested areas, agricultural lands and wetlands and has killed and displaced tribals.


The conflicts in this area are about mining of white clay which is destroying rivers, hills and paddy fields and costing lives. Durgapur, a hilly Upazilla of Netrokona district in the Northern part of Bangladesh has been an attractive tourist place due to its diversified natural beauty, greenery, hills and hillocks, forests, rivers, water bodies and also the enriched natural resources. The hills and hillocks of the said area looks like an exclusive scenic combination of white and pink colours as the hills have a huge storage of white clay, also known as china clay. The Shumeshwory river that flows through the Durgpaur Upazilla (administrative unit below districts) within the hills and hillocks has enhanced the epic beauty of the hills and hillside forests of Durgapur which also inherits a rich collection of silicon sands, white clay, and china clay. The hills and hillocks of the said Area has been a liveable place for the indigenous Hajong, Garo and other tribes whose lives and livelihoods are intimately related to the white clay rich hills and hillocks and the Shumeshwory River.

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Basic Data
NameDeadly mining of white clay, Bangladesh
SiteDistrict of Netrokona
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Other
Specific CommoditiesWhite Clay, also known as China clay or kaolin
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe mining continued over 15.5 kilometer areas of Durgapur Upazilla. The first leases were given in favour of 10 companies in the year 2001 and continued since then till 2017 on the basis of yearly extension. Although the extensions were not renewed since 2006, extractions continued by virtue of orders from different benches of the High Court directing the government agencies not to disturb with the operation of the companies and/or to consider their applications for environmental clearances although none of the leasing companies could submit the legally mandatory Environment Impact Assessment report.

The 10 companies are the followings:

i) Bangladesh Insulator Ceramic Ware Factory Ltd. (state owned)

ii) M/S. Tajma Ceramic Industries Ltd.

iii) M/S. People’s Ceramic Industries Ltd.

iv) M/S. Zaker Refractory and Tiles Enterprise

v) M/S. Momenshahi Ceramic and Glass Industries

vi) M/S. China Bangla Ceramic Industries

vii) M/S. Fu-Wang Ceramic Industries Ltd.

viii) M/S. Jardin International

ix) M/S. Bengal Fine Ceramic Limited

x) M/S. S.R. International

The mining agreements did not specify the amount that could be extracted.
Project Area (in hectares)1,550
Level of Investment (in USD)Not known
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population4,500
Start Date10/03/2014
End Date19/07/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesFu-Wang Ceramic Industry Ltd (Fu-Wang Ceramic) from Bangladesh - Lessee
Peoples Ceramics Ltd. (Peoples Ceramic) from Bangladesh - Lessee
China-Bangla Ceramic Industries Ltd. (China-Bangla Ceramic Industries Ltd.) from Bangladesh - Lessee
Jardin Ceramics Ltd. (Jardin Ceramics) from Bangladesh - Lessee
Bengal Fine Ceramics Ltd (Bengal Fine Ceramics) from Bangladesh - Lessee
Bangladesh Insulator and Sanitary Ware Factory Ltd. ( Insulator and Sanitary Ware Factory) from Bangladesh - Lessee
Tajma Ceramic Industry Ltd. (Tajma Ceramic Industry) from Bangladesh - Lessee
S R International (S R International) from Bangladesh - Lessee
Momenshahi Ceramic and Glass Industries from Bangladesh
Zaker Refractory and Tiles Enterprise from Bangladesh
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment and Forest; Ministry of Land; Ministry of Water Resources; Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources; Ministry of Local Governance, Rural Development and Co-operatives; Department of Environment; Geological Survey of Bangladesh; Deputy Commissioner, Netrokona; Superintendent of Police, Netrokona; Upazilla Nirbahi Officer, Netrokona.
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersBangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)

CARITAS Bangladesh
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion
OtherAir pollution related diseases, water born diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Development of AlternativesA Writ Petition No. 11373 of 2015 was filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) challenging the illegal, unplanned cutting of hills and hillocks and indiscriminate and unauthorized extraction of white clay in Arapara, Panchkahaniya and Maizparamouzas of Kullapara union of Durgapur upazilla under Netrokona District by the 10 companies. The extractions were termed illegal as the same had no Environment Clearance Certificates (ECC) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) as legally required. While the Court initially issued a show cause notice (legally called Rule) on 10 March, 2014, after final hearing, the High Court n 19th July, 2017 made the rule absolute and declared the Illegal and unplanned cutting of hills and hillocks and indiscriminate and unauthorized extraction of white clay unlawful and against public interest. The Court further directed to prevent indiscriminate and illegal extraction of white clay from the area.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.It is possible that the companies submit EIAs for approval. In that case, the victory may not sustain as the mining can restart on the basis of paper works amounting to green washing only.
Sources and Materials

Articles 18A, 31, 32 and 42 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; the Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995 and the Environment Conservation Rules, 1997 made thereunder; the Mines and Mineral Resources (Control and Development) Act, 1992; the Mines and Mineral Rules, 2012; the Bangladesh Water Act, 2013; the Land Management Manual, 1990; the White Clay Mining and Marketing Guidelines, 2014.
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The Daily Observer
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Dhaka Tribune
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The Daily Samakal
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Media Links

Rally White Clay

Other Documents

Judgment White Clay, District of Netrokona
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Pictures White Clay, Netrokona
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White Clay, Netrokona
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Rally White Clay
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White Clay Meeting
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Meta Information
ContributorSyeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive, BELA, [email protected]
Last update16/04/2018