Local communities raise voice against coal policy draft

Correspondent, The New Nation, February 6, 2009 

The dwellers of Phulbari in Dinajpur district, particularly those who would be affected if the open-pit extraction of coals from Barapukuria coal mine is approved, have rejected the draft national coal policy of the expert committee headed by Prof Abdul Matin Patwary.

They have also announced an action programme of staging demonstration in front of the gate of the coal mine project at Barapukuria on February 10 against the draft national coal policy and warned that they will go for a tough action programme. Deep resentment and tension have been prevailing among the dwellers of Phulbari and the affected people of the open-pit coal extraction at Barapukuria.

Talking to this Correspondent, leader of the Phulbari coal mine movement and chairman of the upazila, Aminul Islam Bablu said yesterday that the report of the Patwary Commission was like that of examining the quality of poison by swallowing the poison.

He said there would be an acute scarcity of water in the area and there might be a situation of acid rain like that of Costa Rica after emission of methane gas from the ground table which would have a catastrophic effect on the environment.

Bablu reminded that while visiting the area on September 6 in 2006, Sheikh Hasina, the then opposition leader, had expressed solidarity with the Six-point anti-Asia Energy movement of Phulbari people that claimed many lives on August 26 in 2006. “It would be a betrayal and bluff with the Phulbari dwellers if the incumbent Prime Minister implements the proposal of the Patwary Commission now,” he said, reminding that it was mentioned in the six-point that open-pit extraction of coal could not be carried out anywhere in the country.

Syed Saiful Islam Jewel, Convener of Phulbari unit of the National Committee for protection of oil, gas, power, port and national resources, said the arable fertile lands could not be ruined in the name of extraction of natural resources to ensure food security.

He threatened that they would go for a tough action programme if the government went for implementation of open-pit extraction of coals from Barapukuria coal mine Wazed Ali of Kalupara village, Ruhul Amin of Banshpukur village, Moyen Uddin of Badiyanathpur, Mushfiqur Rahim of Shibkrishnapur and other affected villagers categorically said that they would not move to other places from their ancestral homes by taking compensation and they would fight for their right till their death.

Expressing their anguish over the dubious role of state minister for Forests and Environment and Awami League legislator Advocate Mostafizur Rahman Fizar from Dinajpur-5 constituency, they claimed that the minister was tempting the affected people of Barapukuria coal mine of allocating them flats in the city’s Uttara Model Town

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