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Speakers tell JU roundtable: Open-pit mining for lifting coal in massive scale will be disastrous f

Published by MAC on 2006-06-26

Speakers tell JU roundtable: Open-pit mining for lifting coal in massive scale will be disastrous for the country

The Daily Star (Bangladesh)

26th June 2006

The speakers at roundtable yesterday said if the government allows open-pit mining in its coal policy now being formulated, it will destroy cultivable land and ecological balance. The roundtable titled 'Lifting of Bangladesh coal resource and its distribution: What should be the role of government?' was organised by Arthonity Adhyayan Kendra at Jahangirnagar University. "Though fuel became a dominant factor in politics and economics across the globe after 1973, Bangladesh has not formed any policy yet to utilise the non-renewable resource. The way policy is being formulated in our country will only put present and next generation at risk," said Prof Anu Mohammad of economics department.

The speakers stressed the need for extracting coal to reduce pressure on natural gas which is feared to be exhausted by 2011. They said two points must be kept in mind while formulating the coal policy. These are 'fuel safety' ensuring the highest utilisation of lifted coal inside the country rather than export, and 'comparatively safer lifting method,' they added. The speakers said of the two coal lifting methods, open-pit mining destroys fertility of nearby farmland and causes draught and water pollution. As the method also needs a vast area it does not allow human habitation within a considerable range of the mine, they said, adding it will be harmful for a densely populated country like Bangladesh.

The speakers said as the demand for coal in the country is low, three to four million tons a year, coal can be lifted through underground mining. They also opposed the Asian Energy proposal of lifting coal in massive scale through open-pit mining and exporting large portion of lifted coal. "Giving away the resource means giving away the soil," said Prof Amirul Islam Chowdhury urging the youth to protect the resource of the country.

The speakers criticised the government for awarding policy formulation task to an organisation which has no expertise on the issue. They also condemned the government's failure to realise compensation worth Tk 12,900 crore from Unocol and Niko which could be used in building skilled manpower for conducting the job. "Our own resource is getting inaccessible due to the conspiracy of imperialists and their cohorts in our country. Only mass protest with the spirit of sacrifice can make it possible to protect our resources," said Engineer Md Shahidullah. Prof Badrul Imam of geology department and Prof Zinatunnesa R M M Khuda Khandaker, chairman of economics department, took part in the roundtable which was moderated by Prof Amirul Islam Chowdhury.

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