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
NameDestructive Mining of Silica Sands, Bangladesh
SiteMaulovibazar 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 CommoditiesWater
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsVide 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.

19 out of these 51 hilly streams were leased out for 2 years to 14 individuals for the years 2015-2016 for extraction of silica sands used for refining ceramic products. Of these 19, 13 streams (Shumaichhora, Fulchhora, Murachhora, Jaitachhora, Isamotichhora, Bilashchhora, Aliachhora, Naranyanchhora, Udnachhora, Langliachhora, Jagchhora (west part), Jagchhora(east part, Dingdingachhora) are in Srimangal Upazilla, 4 (Dhamaliachhora, Laghatachhora, Languchhora, Shunchhora) in Komolgonj Upazilla, and 2 (Bobachhora and Borochhora) have their flow through the Kulaura Upazilla.

Although the following 32 (thirty two) streams were not leased out, mining was most illegally continuing there as well:

Srimangal Upazilla:

Bhurbhuriachhora, Jainkachhora, Khaichhora, Shawonchhora, Putiachhora, Noluachhora, Hugliachhora, Ghandhichhora, Ambailchhora, Aliachhora, Makrichhora, Shuarichhora, Patriachhora, Bulachhora, Borochhora, Jhalamchhora

Komolgonj Upazilla:

Jhaplachhora; Jaliachhora; Deorachhora

Rajnagar Upazilla:

Maruachhora; Kalamoachhora; Jamirachhora; Haarchhora; Dhamaichhora; Puranlichhora

Borlekha Upazilla:

Jolonglachhora; Deochhora; Shatma and Latichhora

Kulaura Upazilla:

Deochhora; Ghagrachhora

Moulvibazar Sadar Upazilla:

Deorachhora; Mourachhora

Project Area (in hectares)78
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population580,000
Start Date06/11/2014
Relevant government actorsMinistries 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 organisations and other supportersBangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
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 MobilizingLocal ejos
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, 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
OtherAccess to potable and safe water for household was getting limited
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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

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

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

Other Documents

Moulibazar Pictures
[click to view]

Moulibazar Pictures
[click to view]

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

Meta Information
ContributorSyeda Rizwana Hasan, BELA, [email protected]
Last update14/12/2018