MAC: Mines and Communities

Oil gas committee wants govt to implement Phulbari deal

Published by MAC on 2007-08-18

Oil gas committee wants govt to implement Phulbari deal

Staff Correspondent, NewAge

18th August 2007

The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port on Friday demanded that the government should cancel all the deals with Asia Energy and fully implement the agreement signed with people.

The committee also decided to observe August 26 as 'Phulbari Day' every year as thousands of people at Phulbari in Dinajpur started a massive agitation against Asia Energy's planned open pit mining at Phulbari coal field on this day in 2006. Three people were killed when law enforcers opened fire on the protesters.

Member-secretary of the committee Professor Anu Muhammad demanded that the government should fulfil all the points of an agreement the then government signed with the people on August 30, 2006 following the protest.

'The previous government fulfilled two points out of six of the agreement by paying compensation to the victims. Besides, Asia Energy was ousted from Phulbari and the present government has taken steps to fulfil another point by ensuring fund for a monument at Phulbari in remembrance of the dead,' Anu told a news briefing at the National Press Club.

But no step has yet been taken to fulfil other points, including cancellation of agreement with Asia Energy and ouster of the company from Bangladesh, he said.

'Although Asia Energy was ousted from Phulbari, it has continued its conspiratorial plan in the country. As part of such plan, the company has now taken programmes to exert influence on media.

The company's aim is to buy reporters and consultants to create confusion among people,' Professor Anu observed.

'The company recently took a number of reporters to Germany to write in favour of Asia Energy and open pit mining. Sadly some of my colleagues have also joined them. A clique of teachers, journalists, bureaucrats and businesspeople has been created by the company for supporting it.'

Regarding recent news reports on benefits of open pit mining in Germany, Professor Anu said that the geological formation of Bangladesh land, water table, rainfall, flooding and density of people don't match with Germany and open pit mining would not be viable in this country.

He said many countries, including Argentina and Costa Rica, have recently banned open pit mining (of metals), considering environmental disaster. [* see note]

Professor Anu said that they had sought permission from the government to hold programmes like placing floral wreath in remembrance of the dead, holding mourning rally, photo exhibition, in-house discussion, and prayers sessions from August 26-30.

Committee convener Sheikh Md Shaheedullah, Dhaka University teachers Akmal Hossain and MM Akash and leader of Communist Party of Bangladesh Ruhin Hossain Prince were, among others, present at the news briefing.

* Editorial note: Four provincial assemblies in Argentina have banned open-pit mining but not the central government, which remains solidly in favour of all types of mineral extraction.

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