Quarters against open-pit mining not assured at PM’s assuranceAdmin
The assurance of the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, of a suspension of coal extraction for an unlimited period has not allayed fears of the the quarters, including the local people of Phulbari in Dinajpur, who are against open-pit mining.
The Phulbari upazila chairman Aminul Islam Bablu told New Age that the prime minister made a similar statement at a public meeting at Phulbari immediately after at least three people had been killed in police firing into procession rallying against open-pit mining in 2006 when the BNP-led alliance was in office.
Asia Energy which is now known as Global Coal Management formulated the so-called viability to develop an open-pit coal mine at Phulbari. The then government accepted the idea and allowed the UK-based company to implement the project which offered only 6 per cent of the total resources to Bangladesh, he said.
Aminul, who is also one of the central leaders of the movement against coal extraction in an open pit method from the Phulbari coal reserve since early 2005, said, ‘The people of Phulbari are not rest assured at the prime minister’s statement.’
Some of the quarters rallying against open-pit coal mining said that the Awami League chief had said this as she might have fear of losing her popularity towards the end of the party’s tenure in office if it went for open-pit mining.
Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and ports, told New Age that the prime minister’s statement on coal extraction was inconsistent with activities of the government.
He said that prime minister had said this when
government, Global Coal Management and other illegal beneficiaries were active for coal extraction in an open-pit method at Phulbari and Barapukuria.
Energy expert Nurul Islam, also a professor at the Institute of Appropriate Technology in BUET, said that the prime minister’s statement would leave no scope for extracting coal, even by underground
mining, for power generation.
Hasina at the inauguration of the 53rd council of the Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh on Saturday said that the government would not extract coal from the deposits as they were under highly populated areas.
She said that many were killed in putting up resistance against an open-pit mining in 2006.
Hasina said that the reserves would be kept for the future generation for using the coal in a safer method.