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Destructive Mining of Silica Sands, Bangladesh

A successful legal battle against mining of silica sands from hilly streams yet to deliver fully as defiant miners, in connivance with local authorities, are carrying on extraction activities


Moulvibazar district of Sylhet division is known for its unique beauty and natural appeal. The Upazillas (administrative tier below districts) of Moulvibazar Sadar, Srimangal, Komologonj, Rajnagar, Kulaura and Borlekha are popular tourist areas for their natural sceneries, crystal clear rivers, lush greens, reserve forests, haors, tea estates, hills and hillocks, waterfalls, chhoras or hilly streams and other natural resources. The hilly streams of the said six Upazillas of Moulvibazar district flow through the tea gardens and also other hilly areas. Most of these hilly streams eventually fall into the rivers and have a rich collection of valuable silica sands.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Destructive Mining of Silica Sands, Bangladesh
State or province:N/A
Location of conflict:Maulovibazar District
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities:Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Vide a Gazette Notification dated 27 June, 2013 issued by the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources 192.5 acres of 51 hilly streams flowing through the Moulvibazar district were declared as Silica Sand Quarries. Of these 51 Hilly Streams, 29 streams are in Srimangal Upazila (administrative unit below districts), 7 in Komolgonj, 6 in Rajnagar, 3 in Borlekha, 4 in Kulaura and 2 in the Sadar Upazilla.

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Project area:78
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:580,000
Start of the conflict:06/11/2014
Relevant government actors:Ministries of Land, Environment and Forest, Power, Energy and Mineral Resources; Director General and Director (Sylhet Division), Department of Environment;
Director, Bureau of Mineral Development; Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police, Moulvibazar; Upazilla Nirbahi Officers, Sadar Upazilla, Srimangal Upazilla, Komolgonj Upazilla, Rajnagar Upazilla, Kulaura Upazilla, Borlekha Upazilla, Moulvibazar.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Other Health impactsAccess to potable and safe water for household was getting limited
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite the ruling from the Supreme Court, mining has not totally stopped. For delivering the benefits of the judgment, further follow up legal and administrative actions shall have to be initiated.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The Mines and Mineral Resources Rules, 2012
[click to view]

The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995
[click to view]

The Mines and Mineral Resources (Control and Development) Act, 1992
[click to view]

Other documents

Salica Sand Moulvibazar WP 2948 of 2016 (3 July 2018)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Syeda Rizwana Hasan, BELA, [email protected]
Last update14/12/2018
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