Sand mining in rivers is crucial for Bangladesh because it has huge economic value besides maintaining navigability in the country's rivers, speakers stated at a webinar.
But the mining must be carried out in an organised way: speakers cited that in most cases, sand is lifted illegally.
The webinar styled 'Can River Sand Mining Be a Sustainable Business?' was jointly organised by Change Initiative and Oxfam Bangladesh on Thursday.
Presenting the keynote, Estiaque Bari, senior lecturer of Department of Economics of East West University, said, "In 2018-19 fiscal year, Bangladesh's construction sector was valued at $24 billion, which was 7% of the country's entire GDP in that FY. Sand is a key construction ingredient and has maintained a 7% growth rate for the last five years."
He said that despite the existence of a dedicated law on sand mining, illegal sand lifting still takes place in different parts of the country.
The government allows sand mining primarily to improve river water navigation, as well as to meet the growing demand for sand, he added.
Dr AK Enamul Haque, director of Asian Center for Development, emphasised the importance of sand lifting in Bangladesh, given that huge silt comes into our rivers each year. But any mining should be done in a legal way.
Besides construction work, sand is widely used in land filling, said Haque, also a professor at East West University, urging that sand mining should be brought under a regulation to curb illegal and unwise lifting.
Addressing the webinar as chief guest, Planning Minister, Muhammad Abdul Mannan, said that sand is crucial, no doubt, and linked to the growth of business and the economy. Therefore, I will convey the issue to the policy makers and will try to form a regulation to ensure legalized sand mining, he assured.
Md Alauddin, member of National River Conservation Commission and M Zakir Hossain Khan, executive director of Change Initiative also spoke at the event, among others.