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Villagers rally against open pit mining

Dodgy deals
By New Age Newspaper | Bangladesh, Mar 29 2011

The national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, ports and power on Monday enforced a six-hour road and rail blockade at Phulbari in Dinajpur, demanding implementation of its seven-point demands including compensation for Aman crops near Barapukuria coal mine area.

At a meeting, the leaders of the committee demanded for withdrawal of cases that were filed on January 21 in the local police station against local people who obstructed a government move for conducting survey to assess the amount of damage due to coal extraction from Barapukuria coal mine.  

The oil-gas protection body has been spearheading a campaign against open pit mining and involvement of foreign companies in coal extraction and coal export.

The committee has been demanding for ousting global coal management-- the other name of Asia energy-- from the country.

The blockades suspended communications between Dinajpur and Dhaka, Rangpur, Bagura, Rajshahi via Phulbari by road for six hours starting from 6am to 12pm. Even no trains passed through Phulbari station and all offices and educational and business institutions remained shut during the blockade.

Sheikh Mohammad Shahidullah, convener of the committee, in a meeting arranged by the local committee of the oil-gas protection committee said that people of two adjacent Upazilas--Phulbari and Barapukuria--will not allow open pit mining in their area.

He said that massive destruction would appear in the north Bengal of the country if the government allows extraction of coal by open pit method.

He demanded compensation for 100 years for the affected people for land subsidence due to coal extraction from Barapukuria.

Calling the movement the second war of independence after 1971, Anu Mohammad, member secretary of the committee, said that independence meant establishing control over own national resources.

Nur Mohammad, a member of the central committee called on women to participate in the movement more effectively as women and children would be severely affected by any evacuation.

He urged the local people to be united in protesting against all activities against the interest of the people.

In capital Dhaka also, the oil-gas protection committee staged a rally led by its central leader Shamsul Huq.

The rally over, a procession paraded the street from the national press club to Purana Paltan crossing.

The committee, earlier on February 28, gave a one-month ultimatum for fulfilment of their demands.

Phulbari coal mine
The Phulbari coal project is a proposed open pit coal mine in northwest Bangladesh and includes the construction of at least one 500-MW power plant. At full production about…

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