On the morning of August 17, Mirpur Balur ghat area was abuzz with activity as labourers were very busy unloading sand from several sand-carrying bulkhead boats.
A sand-carrying bulkhead boat called "Ma Babar Doa" was anchored at the ghat. The eight thousand cubic feet boat had brought yellow-coloured sand from Durgapur in Netrokona.
"This is the most expensive sand in the market, one truck of this yellow sand is sold for Tk8,500," said a labourer named Rustom Ali.
The labourers were filling bamboo-made wicker baskets with sand and walking down fast to traders' yards on the bank of the Buriganga river to pile up the sand.
Mirpur Balur ghat area, on the edge of the eastern side of the city, remains busy from four in the morning till five in the afternoon. The whole area is flooded with small hills of sand brought from different parts of the country. Nearly 100 traders have set up "Godi", a small shop in the market.
This is the largest sand market in Dhaka city. Traders said that more than one thousand trucks of sand are being sold in the market every day. Of them, 70 percent is white sand and the rest of the 30 percent is yellow-coloured sand commonly known as Sylhet's "balu".
On average, a truck of white sand is sold for Tk1,500 while a truck of yellow-coloured sand is sold for Tk7,000. Every year, traders sell sand worth Tk113 crore in the market.
Customers from different parts of the city come here to buy sand for their construction works. Contractors working on various different development projects also buy sand from this market.
The Dhaka North City Corporation's ward councillor of the area Mujib Sarowar Masum alleged that these sand traders are doing business in the area by illegally occupying the city corporation's place.
"They have no legal lease. They have even lost a case in the high court. Now they are forcibly occupying the place," said Mujib Sarowar adding that they are planning to evict the illegal occupants soon.
However, the sand traders' association's President Mohammad Obaidullah claimed that they are doing business legally.
"We are providing a large amount of revenue to BIWTA and the government," claimed Obiadullah.
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority Chairman Commodore Golam Sadeq confirmed that the sand market on the bank of Buriganga is operating illegally.
"We will take action. We will soon evict all illegal traders from the area," said Commodore Golam Sadeq.