Govt urged not to approve draft coal policy

 NewAge, December 10, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh Left leaders and academics at a discussion in the city on Sunday requested the interim government not to approve the draft coal policy and to concentrate on its main task of holding the general elections.
 They also lambasted the government for what they said was its conspiracy to allow the Asia Energy to develop the Phulbari coal field instead of implementing the agreement the previous BNP-led alliance government had signed with the people to evict the company from the country.
 ‘The interim government’s activities have revealed many of its hidden intentions. A new conspiracy has been launched to allow the Asia Energy to develop an open pit coal mine at Phulbari against the will of the people as a part of the government’s wider cabals,’ alleged Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary of the Communist Party of Bangladesh.
 The Workers Party of Bangladesh organised the discussion titled Phulbari Coal Resources and Conspiracy at its central office in Dhaka with the party president, Rashed Khan Menon, in the chair.
 The participants of the meeting censured the draft coal policy, finalised by an advisory committee, for allowing open pit mining that would pave the way for developing the Phulbari coal field by the Asia Energy and for not increasing the rate of royalty on coal extraction.Mujahidul, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president Hasanul Haq Inu, and Dhaka University geology professor Hossain Mansur called on the government not to approve the draft coal policy as it is a highly sensitive issue. Mujahidul said the interim government had set out with the agenda to rout corruption and hold the parliamentary elections. ‘But, no significant work has been done [towards that end]. Although it arrested big businessmen on corruption charges, it is now releasing them all. A new formula has been invented: if you are a big corrupt, you will get released, but if you are a petty one, you will be jailed. It has also taken steps to disinvest the nationalised commercial banks,’ he said, adding that the Asia Energy issue was a part these conspiracies.
The CPB leader also said that it was not only the people of Phulbari but the entire nation that had protested against the operations of the Asia Energy and its planned open pit coal mining.
 Menon said the Workers Party of Bangladesh would try to unite all political parties on one platform against any move to allow the Asia Energy to develop the Phulbari coal field. He asked the coal advisory committee to make specific proposals on royalty rate and coal mining method, without making any vague statements.
 Menon also demanded of the government to clarify its agreement with the Asia Energy as the company said it had a mining lease while the government claimed there was no such lease.WP leader Haider Akbar Khan Rono presented the keynote paper in which he demanded that the Asia Energy should be ousted from the country in line with the agreement between the government and the people, that no coal field should be leased to any company, and that the state should have full ownership of all coal fields. He also demanded that no open pit mining should be allowed in the country and no coal should be exported.  

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