The government has planned to set up the country’s first geological museum in Jaflong under Gowainghat Upazila in Sylhet, which they believe will help stop stone extraction illegally in the Ecologically Critical Area (ECA).
Bureau of Mineral Development (BMD), a state-run organisation responsible for the management and generation of revenue from mineral resources, will implement the project.Gowainghat Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Nazmus Shakib said that he received a letter signed by BMD Director General Mohammad Zafar Ullah last week in this regard.
The BMD informed the Gowainghat Upazila Administration about their scheme to build a world-class geological museum with a view to addressing stone extraction by putting up signboards with the instructions of the High Court.
In 2012, the High Court directed that Jaflong should be declared an ECA in response to an appeal filed by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).
On February 18, 2015, a notification was issued declaring Jaflong an ECA and on January 11, 2016, the power, energy and mineral resources ministry conferred ‘geological heritage’ status on Jaflong.
A total of 22.59 acres of land in Jaflong was declared reserved area in the national interest and for the protection of open rock, limestone and research purposes.
Meanwhile, an organisation called M/S Jalalabad Lime Manufacturers and Trading Association, in a letter dated August 17, 2020 claimed that they made acquisition of the protected area in Jaflong in 1972.The letter said any other organisation including Jalalabad Lime Manufacturers and Trading Association should refrain from quarrying in the area specified.
A Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) outpost is likely to be damaged if stones are quarried in and around Sonatila in Jaflong.
In the interest of national security and to implement the development plan adopted by the government, BMD is preparing to deal with any legal issues that may arise.
Apart from being a tourist destination, the Jaflong region of Sylhet is important for its geological history and heritage.
On a hill next to the Sangram BGB camp on the banks of the Dauki River, there are layers of very old sedimentary rocks, including layers of limestone, which are found nowhere else in Bangladesh.