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Dhaka Tribune

'Scrap power plant project by today'

Update : 09 Apr 2016, 02:25 AM
The locals of Banshkhali agitating against the proposed 1,224MW coal power plant by S Alam Group issued an ultimatum yesterday asking the authorities to scrap the project by this evening. Liakat Ali, convener of the Homestead and Graveyard Protection Committee, made the announcement from a condolence rally held on the West Gondamara Primary School premises to pay respect to the four protesters killed on Monday. “I want to make it clear that this is not a movement of any political party. Rather, it is the movement of the people. I urge the prime minister to give a second thought to the proposed project before the problem deepens. Please resolve the problem without further delay,” said Liakat, also the former chairman of Gondamara Union. He also announced to lay siege to the UNO office tomorrow morning wearing burial clothes if the project was not cancelled by the deadline. At least four protesters were killed in gunshots and over 30 others injured on Monday afternoon when the anti-plant agitators were gathering on the school ground protesting against arrests and intimidation. The local administration imposed a ban on gatherings Monday morning, a proposition refuted by the protesters. State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid on Thursday hinted that the government would not have any objection rather would cooperate if S Alam Group wanted to shift the power plant to any other location. Meanwhile, members of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, and some rights bodies visited Banshkhali and talked to the affected people. From a press briefing at Chittagong Press Club yesterday evening, they blamed the government and the plant authorities for the deaths of the protesters. Prof Anu Muhammad, the member secretary of the committee, demanded that the government back off from any environmentally-hazardous project. He also demanded an independent committee to investigate the killings. “We do not want to see any probe committee that will cover up the whole issue. We will not accept any investigation which will turn out to be a farce,” he said. “S Alam Group must bear all the medical expenses of the injured and compensate the deceased. Moreover, the false and fabricated cases filed against hundreds of villagers must be withdrawn without any delay,” he said. Prof Anu alleged that the plant authorities had not followed the due process to implement the project. “The residents of the area have the right to know the impact of the proposed plant. “The Banshkhali incident sends a clear message to the government that a coercive measure does not yield any result. The policymakers of the government should take lesson from the incident,” he said, alleging that the supporters of S Alam Group had established a reign of terror since the beginning of the project. He suggested that the government look for alternatives to coal considering its harmful environmental impacts. “We can exploit gas from the Bay of Bengal and set up solar and wind power projects. But the government always looks for some astronomically expensive projects which paves the way for corruption,” he noted. Earlier, the committee members held a protest rally on the Central Shaheed Minar premises and brought a procession in the city. During their visit to Banshkhali, the 10-member committee that also included rights activist Sultana Kamal spoke to the locals and expressed solidarity with their concerns over the possible adverse impact of the coal-fired plant. Sultana Kamal said that the government must pay heed to the demands of the people. “The government will have to pay the price if it plays the role of a silent spectator. Any project that may pose a serious threat to the livelihood of the people and the ecological balance must be scrapped. Development should be meant for all the members of the society,” she said.
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