Thursday, September 6, 2007

National Committee (NC) terms ministry’s opinion on Phulbari deal disrespectful of people

Committee terms ministry’s opinion on Phulbari deal disrespectful of people
Staff Correspondent, NewAge, September 6, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh

The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port has said that the law ministry’s reported opinion that termed the Phulbari agreement ‘illegal’ was disrespectful of the people’s verdict. The committee demanded that the government fully implement the Phulbari agreement with the people by cancelling the deal with Asia Energy for mining the Phulbari coal-field.

The committee’s convener, Sheikh Md Shahidullah, and member secretary, Anu Muhammad, in a statement on Tuesday said that government had already implemented a number of conditions of the Phulbari agreement with people which was signed on August 30 in response to a mass movement to protect country’s resources, farmland, water, people and environment. ‘It has been reported, quoting the law ministry, that the government’s Phulbari agreement with the people does not have a legal basis. This is disrespectful of the people’s verdict and will only abet the corruption, fraud and anti-state activities of Asia Energy,’ said the statement.

The committee said that a number of legal experts have opined that the Phulbari agreement became effective as the government had already fulfilled a number of the agreement’s conditions. ‘So it is the government’s responsibility to also fulfil the other conditions of the agreement,’ said the committee’s statement.

The committee’s members observed that it would be easy for the government to fulfil the other conditions by cancelling the deal with Asia Energy, as an expert committee formed by the government found that the company’s mine development programme was not acceptable on any account — legally, environmentally, economically — and was against the public’s interest.

The committee’s leaders demanded that the government cancel the project for open-pit mining at Phulbari and oust Asia Energy from Bangladesh after taking compensation from it.