The Daily Star, September 21, 2007
The committee tasked with finalising a coal policy for the country will be visiting today Barapukuria coal mine, Phulbari, Khalashpir, Dighipara and a few other areas that are rich with coal deposits. The members of the committee, accompanied by the energy secretary, will talk with the officials of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company as well as with the locals of Phulbari, including the ones who have been opposing the coal-mining proposal of Asia Energy, said sources.
On the way, the committee will visit the Dighipara and Khalashpir coal zones, the sources added. The committee also intends to visit and survey the area of Jamalganj -- the country's biggest coal deposit -- where no visible surface marking is available.
Furthermore, the committee that was formed in June has decided to send two of its members -- Prof Nurul Islam from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) and Prof Badrul Imam from Geology Department of Dhaka University -- to the upcoming Saarc coal conference to be held in Kolkata in mid-October.
The committee recently resolved a vital debate on the mining method in the draft of national coal policy. While one group of people had been putting pressure on banning the open-pit method of mining in Bangladesh, the other group wanted all mining option to be open for particular mining proposals.
The committee decided that the policy would not restrict any mining method since it depends on technical issues such as geology or hydrology etc. and the government should have the discretionary authority to approve a mining method against each mining proposal.
The committee headed by Prof Abdul Matin Patwari, former vice chancellor of Buet, was formed as the sixth draft version of the national coal policy drew a lot of criticism for being anti-investment and self-contradictory.
The finalisation of the national coal policy is seen as a crucial document for the future of the existing deals with Asia Energy or Hosaf as well as for other offers that are pending government approval.