Energy division likely to review draft coal policy

NewAge, January 24, 2008. Dhaka, Bangladesh

The energy and mineral resources division is likely to review the draft coal policy submitted by the advisory committee the government formed to finalise the draft before sending it to the council of advisers for approval. ‘The draft at this moment is not in the form of a policy; it is now rather in the shape of a manual. We will need to give it a form of policy. We will do it after a consensus is reached by all concerned on issues such as how the mining method will be fixed,’ special assistant to the chief adviser M Tamim told reporters on Wednesday.The chief adviser’s special assistant on the power and energy ministry said the division would take about 15 days to thoroughly scrutinise the contents of the draft.’We will then look into whether there are any contradicting and confusing matters in the draft. If we do not find any, we will be happy. If necessary we will again discuss with the advisory committee members the recommendations they put forward for a consensus,’ said Tamim.He said the broader objective of the policy would be optimum, and not maximum, production of coal. ‘For optimum production of coal, environmental and social issues will also be strongly considered.’The advisory committee, headed by the former BUET vice-chancellor, Abdul Matin Patwari, recently submitted the draft coal policy to the energy division after bringing about some changes in the earlier version of the draft.The committee recommended discouraging coal export, operating one open-pit mine to examine the viability of the method, awarding exploration and mining licences to state-run entities that could form joint ventures with foreign or private companies and establishing a separate entity, Coal Bangla, for the development of the coal sector.When asked whether any move to change the latest draft would create further controversy, Tamim said, ‘Whatever we do, we will do it on a consensus and based on reasons. We will need to create the premise where there should be no differences of opinion on the finalisation of the draft.’Tamim said everyone would agree that coal extraction is a must for electricity generation. ‘Then the question of how, when and how much coal could be extracted will come up. The demand for coal will dictate the issues.’He said the mining method would be mine-specific and the mining engineers or geologists would fix the mining method. ‘One should not dictate technology out of political ambition.’Tamim said every mining method has its adverse affects. ‘We will need to mitigate or minimise the affects to a tolerable level whatever the method we follow.’It is an engineering decision. The main thing is that whatever we do we will need to safeguard the interest of the country.’

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