Sunday, October 7, 2007

Conservationists’ group terms ADB ‘corporate lobbyist’

NewAge, October 7, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh

National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port on Saturday protested against the Asian Development Bank’s role as ‘corporate lobbyist’ for Asia Energy and Tata Group. It also blasted energy and finance advisers to the government for their reported willingness to start stalled negotiations with Asia Energy on Phulbari coal field.

‘We are concerned and annoyed at media reports that a visiting ADB mission is lobbying and pressurising the government in favour of Asia Energy and Tata projects,’ professor Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the committee, said at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.

ADB officials are lobbying for the Asia Energy venture even before the Manila-based lender’s board is yet to approve the project, which was being framed in violation of ADB’s own guidelines for public consultation, dissemination of information, protection of environment and respect for peoples’ verdict, he said.

The economics professor questioned why two advisers of the government were searching for opportunity to renegotiate with the UK-based mining company. He alleged that ABD was planning to invest the member-states’ money to benefit some companies, not the people. Professor Anu demanded that the interim government must scrap the ‘shady agreement’ the previous government signed with Asia Energy and that the national coal policy, which is in the making, exclude open-pit mining method.

Committee convenor Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah said the people would not accept if the government agrees to Tata’s proposals for supplying huge quantity of gas at a time when the country’s gas reserve was depleting and power and fertiliser plants were facing gas shortage. Committee leaders Golam Rabbani, Akmal Hossain, Shamsul Alam, Tipu Biswas, Ruhin Hossain Prince and Zonayed Saki were present at the press conference.