Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ban on open-pit coal mining demanded

NewAge, November 6, 2007. Dhaka, Bangladesh

Conservationists repeated their call for a complete ban on open-pit coal mining to protect the country’s geophysical structures. They also demanded that the coal policy must not provide for open-pit mining even as a pilot scheme.

‘If anyone wants to know what devastation an open pit mining can bring, he or she can visit such coalmines in other countries,’ said professor Anu Mohammad, member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port on Monday.

An advisory committee formed by the government with former BUET vice chancellor Abdul Matin Patwari as its head decided in principle to recommend in the draft policy for a pilot project on open pit mining covering eight square kilometres area at Barapukuria coal field.

But economist Anu Mohammad at a discussion meeting on ‘coal resources and national interest’ felt that such a pilot project was not necessary.

National Committee convenor SM Shahidullah said that the pilot project would be wastage of money as the open-pit mining would not be successful in the country considering the geological condition of Bangladesh.

Dhaka University geology professor Hossain Monsur, who is a former Petrobangla chairman, said India operates open pit mines that have a maximum depth of 180 metres, whereas Bangladesh’s coal seams are at the depth of 300 metres.

‘It is not a good idea to venture on a pilot open-pit mine project covering eight square kilometres area. It would bring an environmental disaster,’ he warned.

The National Committee leaders demanded immediate expulsion of the Asia Energy from Bangladesh.

Professor Shamsul Alam of Chittagong University of Engineering and Technology presented the keynote paper at the discussion.