| || |
Khaled Hasan“Once upon a time there was a blue River that flowed in Jaflong, but now it is going to lose its natural beauty. Uncontrolled stone-crushing threatens the local people’s health.” – Probal Das, a stone worker.
Living Stone - A community losing its Life
The story which I emphasis on is about a hard work community of Jaflong, which is located on the north eastern part of Bangladesh. Jaflong was a scenic spot amidst tea gardens and rare beauty of rolling stones from hills. It is about 56 kilometers from Sylhet city under Gowainghat upazila. Jaflong is on the foot of Meghalay hills. The Piyain River is the main feature and natural beauty of Jaflong which flows from India through Bangladesh. During the monsoon, the river currents wash down precious rocks and pebbles from India into Jaflong area. At dawn every day, more than a hundred little boats with laborers enter the Piyain River, buckets and spades in hand. This is one trade which has a geological limit. The stones that tumble down the riverbed from India are decreasing in volume and the laborers are already taking the risk of invading the no-man’s land along the Indo-Bangla border which is a contradictory political issue between Bangladesh and India. Many laborers were killed by BSF in that Borders Area. More than 5,000 men, women and child stone-laborers are engaged here. Uncontrolled and unstoppable stone extracting and crushing at Jaflong has been posing a serious threat to public health, and to the environment and agriculture in the area. The arable lands at this area are losing productivity to a large extent and biodiversity in the area will face severe threat in near future if the government does not impose restriction on indiscriminate stone-crushing. Huge dusts created by stone-crushing machines; their sound and chemical reaction are the major factors that have been causing threat to public health and the environment. Children are the worst victims of stone-crushing in and around the Jaflong area. There is no legal protection and no human rights in this Stone Industry. Many children there have been suffering from hearing problems due to the high-pitched sounds of the stone-crushing machines.
During my working from 2006 as many as 250 machines are engaged in crushing stone at Jaflong. An average 2000-3000 truck of stones is being crushed every day. Abul Hossain, a local, told me they cannot produce crops on their lands as dusts of crushed stones destroy all their efforts in this regard.
The Bangladeshi government has failed to take any initiative to prevent the stone-crushing industry at Jaflong and the resulting high rate of erosion which is threatening to destroy the adjacent Khasia (indigenous people) villages within the next 5 years.
A huge amount of stone crashing machine’s sound creates hearing pollution, dust makes air pollution, uncontrolled stone collection creates environment balancing problems and all things are effects on the Ecological imbalance. I realize their hassles, I saw their hard work and I saw their happy moments also. So, I want to visualize the facts of this suffering society and their personal feeling through my way in a little space.