Once upon a time there was a blue river that flowed in Jaflong, but now it is going to lose its natural beauty. Uncontrolled stone-crushing threatens the local people’s health.
– Probal Das, a stone worker.
The story I focus on is about the hard work community of Jaflong, in northeastern Bangladesh. The Piyain River is the main feature and shows the natural beauty of Jaflong which flows from India through Bangladesh. During the monsoon, the river currents wash down precious rocks and pebbles from India into the Jaflong area. At dawn every day, more than a hundred little boats with laborers enter the Piyain River, buckets and spades in hand. This is one trade which has a geological limit; the stones that tumble down the riverbed from India are decreasing in volume and the laborers are already taking the risk of invading the no-man’s land along the Indo-Bangla border which is a contradictory political issue between Bangladesh and India. More than 5,000 men, women and child stone-laborers are engaged there. Uncontrolled stone extraction and crushing at Jaflong has been posing a serious threat to public health, and to the environment and agriculture in the area. There is no legal protection and no human rights in this industry. Many children there have been suffering from hearing problems due to the high-pitched sounds of the stone-crushing machines.
During my work in 2006 as many as 250 machines were engaged in crushing stone at Jaflong. Abul Hossain, a local, told me they cannot produce crops on their lands as dust of crushed stones destroy all their efforts.
The Bangladeshi government has failed to take any initiative to prevent the stone-crushing industry at Jaflong and the resulting high rate of erosion which is threatening to destroy the adjacent Khasia (indigenous people) villages within the next 5 years. I saw their hard work and I saw their happy moments. So, I want to visualize the facts of this suffering society and their personal feeling through my way in a little space.