MAC: Mines and Communities

Laying siege against coal mining in Bangladesh

Published by MAC on 2010-08-30
Source: bdnews24.com (2010-08-26)

In July, Bangladeshi citizens laid "siege" to the country's largest coal mine, demanding compensation for severe damage, allegedly caused by its underground operations to nearly 3,000 habitations.

A month later, many organisations from the same area marched in protest at the government's failure to implement a 2006 agreement, which would have prohbitied open-cast coal extraction by the UK company, GCM Resources plc (formerly Asia Energy).

Fourth Fulbari Day being observed

bdnews24.com

26 August 2010

Dinajpur- Different organisations and political parties across the country are observing the fourth anniversary of the deaths of three people who died at the hands of the police in Fulbari.

On 26 Aug 2006, three locals, Salekin, 20, Tariqul, 21, and Amin, 13, were killed and more than 200 people were injured when law enforcers fired on the protesters who were demonstrating against the government decision to introduce open pit mining in Fulbari, Dinajpur.

In response people ransacked the local office of the Asia Energy, the company responsible for the planned open-pit mining and called for an indefinite hartal. After a long struggle they withdrew their protest programmes as the government assured them that they would meet the protestors' demands.

The programmes started with the placing of floral wreaths at the Central Shaheed Minar at about 10 am on Thursday. Different political parties and organisation, including the National Committee for Protection of Oil-Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Workers' Party, Revolutionary Workers' Party, Ganasanghati Andolan, Workers' Party (reconstructed), National front, juba Maitri, Chhatra Maitri, Bangladesh Students' Union, Socialist Students' front and Green Voyage.

Moreover, different student organisations brought out demonstrations marking what has become known as Fulbari Day.

Local people in Fulbari, on the eve of the fourth anniversary again vowed to secure the spirit of the day and prevent at any cost any mining policy that goes against the interest of the people.

The programmes taken to mark the day include hoisting of a black flag, the wearing of black badges, a mourning rally, placing of floral wreaths on the martyrs' graveyard, prayers and Iftar Mahfil.

Aminul Islam Bablu, present Fulbari Upazila chairman and the then leader of the Fulbari defense committee, told bdnews24.com that the government had given a total compensation of Tk 7,54,000 to 16 amongst the more than 200 wounded. Families of those who died got Tk two lakh each [200,000 taka = approximately US$ 2,400].

Moreover, Tk four lakh was given to build a memorial for the men.

Babul Roy, one of the injured men, has now become almost lame and even after four years after the incident, is under treatment.

Salekin's father Hasem Ali told bdnews24.com, "My son gave his life to protect Fulbari. He drove away the Asia Energy from Fulbari."

"We will at any cost prevent any further conspiracy to introduce open-pit mining in Fulbari," Ali said.

According to the then Asia Energy statistics, if the open-pit mining was introduced in Fulbari, a total of 5,933 hectares of land, among which 4,762 was agricultural land, would have been directly effected. Moreover, about 40,000 people and 20,000 structures was suspected to be under threat from the mining.

NO MEMORIAL YET

Despite the government allocation of taka four lakh, the monument in memory of the martyrs is yet to be build.

The then convener of the defense committee, Saiful Islam Jewel told bdnews24.com that one of the six-point demands raised in 2006 was to construct a memorial for the martyrs. The government met our demands and sanctioned taka four lakh for this purpose. But this money is at present in the Upazila NIrbahi Officer's (UNO) account.

UNO Pratap Chandra Biswash, however, said that though he has the money in his account, there is no note on the use of the money. He said, "I've asked the committee members to submit an application to me in this concern, but they never contacted me."


Siege of Barapukaria Coal Mine continue

bdnews24.com

19 July 2010

Local people living around the Barapukuria Coal Mine have laid siege to the mine since Monday morning demanding compensation for 2,600 buildings and establishments that they say have been affected by the mine's operations.

Around 3,000 angry residents from 11 villages adjoining the mine, armed with sticks and chanting slogans demanding compensation, started to demonstrate in front of the two entrances of the mine at around 11.30am on Monday.

They also blocked the roads and rail-tracks and cut off the coal supply belt heading to the nearby coal-run power plant.

A meeting in the afternoon between representatives of the demonstrators and additional police superintendent Hassan Mohammad Shawkat Ali and RAB-5 captain Ahsan failed to bring the siege to an end.

The demonstrators said while the mine authorities pay annual compensation for agricultural losses incurred, they do not compensate for damages to homes and buildings.

The convenor for the Committee to Protect Life and Property, the movement's lead organisation, Ibrahim Khalil told bdnews24.com "A memorandum was handed to the district's deputy commissioner on Saturday demanding compensation for infrastructural damage.

"A copy of the same letter was given to the mine authorities on Sunday."

However, managing director of the mining company Md Qamruzzaman said they had started paying compensation to the affected people on Sunday.

"We are paying the affected people of the mine area of 646 acres around Barapukuria," he told bdnews24.com.

Additional police, led by the Upazila's executive officer (UNO) Mujibul Ferdous, have been deployed at both entrances to avoid any untoward incident.

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