April 20, 2024, 1:02 am

Proposed Balumahal law emphasizes on food safety, environmental protection and smart management

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Update : Saturday, November 5, 2022

Staff Reporter Dhaka : The draft ‘Balumahal and Soil Management (Amendment) Act-2022’ (Sand Quarry and Soil Management (Amendment) Act-2022) emphasizes food security, environment protection, and smart sand quarry management. The cabinet approved the draft law on last October 31.

Land Minister Saifuzzaman Chowdhury has instructions to quickly and efficiently send the draft land-related laws to the Parliament for the purpose of enacting the legislation in line with land services digitalization.

The government has taken initiatives to amend the ‘Balumahal and Soil Management Act, 2010’ to solve the complexities related to the leasing of sand quarries, to planned extraction and marketing of sand and soil from quarries, its control, to curb the crimes committed and to set-up up-to-date sand quarry management system. The state exchequer earns an average of Taka 100 to Tk 150 crore annually from sand quarry (Balumahal) lease payments.

Important matters included in the draft of the proposed ‘Sand Quarry and Soil Management (Amendment) Act-2022’ are the provisions of prohibition of the extraction of underground sand or soil if that causes damage to that land including or the neighborhood land, the protection of privately owned fertile agricultural land and, the conservation of fertile top-soil of agricultural land. In addition, the proposed law provides that no sand or soil should be extracted from any privately owned land that causes damage to the environment or causes damage, erosion, or landslide of the surrounding land.

The proposed amended law has the provision of speedy online leasing execution, and has also provision of using satellite data, or installing CC cameras or conducting of biannual digital surveys for monitoring sand extraction activities and quantity.

In this proposed law, the provision of extracting and managing sand or soil from non-leased sand quarries and other areas for government development activities or important public works, noncompulsory of hydrographic survey outside the prescribed waterway and lifting of sand/soil from the non-leased sand quarries in the method of collecting Khas are included.

Some of the provisions which are also included to prevent the misdeeds of unscrupulous folks are the blacklisting of individuals or institutions violating the leasing conditions, prosecuting the unlawful activities of illegal sand extractors, confiscating assets used in criminal activities, and recovering compensation, etc.

The provision of compulsory repairing of damaged road due to the transportation of lifted sand by sand transporter or impose of compensation on sand transporter for that reason is included, and also, the provision of lifting sand/soil in the method of collecting Khas from the non-leased sand quarry is proposed in the draft of this law.

With the passing of the ‘Sand Quarry and Soil Management (Amendment) Act-2022’ by the Cabinet, the preliminary proceedings of enacting this law has ended. Now, with the help of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, the final draft will be prepared and sent to the Parliament Secretariat for taking necessary proceedings to introduce the bill in the National Parliament (Jatiya Sangsad) for enacting the law.

The Ministry of Land is focusing on establishing sustainable land management by introducing digital services as well as revising laws and regulations, and drafting new laws where applicable. Apart from the aforementioned law, some of the significant new laws being worked on include Land Crime Prevention and Redress Act, Land Reforms Act, Land Development Tax Act, Hats and Bazars Establishment and Management Act, Land Ownership and Use Act etc.

Sand Quarry (Balumahal) refers to an open space, tea plantation stream or riverbed where environmentally friendly extractable sand (except mineral sand and silica sand) or soil (except Mottled clay, Shale or Clay and China Clay) or other sand-mixed soil is preserved and declared as Balumahal by the Deputy Commissioner under the related Act.

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