In just another aggressive effort of the Awami League government and the GCM Plc (Asia Energy), its CEO Gary Lye visited Phulbari in Dinajpur Wednesday noon. He was for the second time in two years obstructed by the conscious locals who have been opposing an open-pit coal mining project of the US and UK-based firm for the last one decade.
The ruling government seems adamant to approve Asia Energy’s controversial proposal even though its chief Sheikh Hasina in 2006 supported the six point demands of the locals that included no open-pit mining in Phulbari and cancelling deals with Asia Energy.
Then in opposition, Hasina during her election campaign in the north joined a rally in Phulbari to bring those people into confidence. She has warned then Khaleda-Nizami government with dire consequences if the demands were not met.
However, after coming to power her energy adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi in response to then US ambassador Moriarty’s request (or bribes) assured him of clearing the project through parliament by bringing the people into confidence.
Later a parliamentary committee was formed which has advocated for open-pit mining disregarding a 2008 experts’ committee stance against it.
Hasina herself at a meeting with energy ministry officials asked them to assess possible scopes to extract coal from Phulbari through the controversial method that would displace over 2 lakh people over the mining period of 30 years.
It doesn’t matter to the government or the elite class civil servants whether the poor people are affected for any investment because it’s a pro-business government.
Same attitude is seen in the case of 1,320MW Rampal power plant near the Sundarbans. The govt has been successful to begin the project only when it deployed army there since it failed to stop mass movement and criticisms.
Politicians and businessmen are shameless, no doubt.
They’re assisted by some media and influential PR firms like The Daily Star, Prothom Alo and the Asiatic. Many university teachers and scientists have also been supporting Asia Energy’s coal project and the Bangladesh-India joint venture coal power project.
May be soon army or paramilitary BGB would be deployed in Phulbari too!