The High Court (HC) has stayed the suspension of stone extraction in Bholaganj of Sylhet for six months.
After a preliminary hearing of a writ petition regarding the issue, the HC bench comprising Justices JBM Hasan and Khairul Alam passed the order on Sunday, confirmed lawyer Habib Un Nabi, who appeared in court on behalf of the petitioners.
On 1 September 2016, the Ministry of Mineral Resources banned the extraction of stones from Jaflong, Bholaganj, Shah Arefin Tila, Bichanakandi and Lobachhara stone quarries in Sylhet to prevent environmental catastrophes.
In 2014, the HC banned the use of all types of machines in stone quarries in Sylhet following a writ petition filed by the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).
Since the government's ban, stone traders have been protesting for permission to extract stones from quarries. Later, transport businessmen joined in the movement and transport workers also went on strike for three days last month with the same demand.
Meanwhile, a memorandum has been issued to policymakers at all levels, including the prime minister, state minister for mineral resources, foreign minister, expatriate welfare minister, cabinet secretary and deputy commissioner of Sylhet.
However, environmentalists have been demanding a halt to stone extraction to prevent environmental catastrophes.
Abdul Karim Kim, general secretary of the Bapa in Sylhet, said unplanned extraction had lowered the levels of rocks in Sylhet quarries, which cannot be extracted without using machines. So, traders use a "bomb machine", which is very destructive to the environment and banned by the HC. Traders will start using these machines again if they are permitted to extract stones.
Besides the destruction of the environment, unplanned quarrying in Sylhet's quarries regularly lead to workers' deaths.
According to the Bela, between 23 January 2017 and 20 January 2020, 76 stoneworkers were killed and 21 injured in Sylhet's stone quarries.