Friday, June 20, 2008

Coal policy draft sent to relevant ministries for opinions

NewAge, June 20 2008. Dhaka, Bangladesh

The energy division has sent the draft coal policy to eight relevant ministries for opinions on the finalisation of the draft.
 The division, which completed finalising the draft policy on its part, sent the draft to eight ministries, including finance, environment and forest, agriculture, land, law and the National Board of Revenue on Sunday, sources in the division said.

The ministries have been asked to submit their opinions on June 24 before the division convenes an inter-ministerial meeting on June 26 to discuss the comments given by the ministries, they said.
 Sources in the division claimed the division had not made any ‘major changes’ in the draft policy, submitted earlier by the advisory committee, headed by former BUET vice-chancellor Abdul Matin Patwari.

The division dropped a provision off the draft, finalised by the Patwari committee, which said the reclaimed land would need to be handed over to the owner in the original form after completing coal mining. Sources in the division claimed the existing laws did not support the provision of giving back the land to the owner after the government acquired the land. ‘Besides, it will create complexities and scope of corruption as after 10 to 20 years of mining, many “so-called” owners will claim the land,’ observed a source.

One of the members on the Patwari committee, however, told New Age the land could be handed over to the owner if the government had the sincerity. ‘Thousands of poor land owners will need to be relocated for mining. The people should have the right to get back the land. If the government owns the land, it will create scope for corruption,’ he said.

Citing the example of land acquisition for the Jamuna Bridge, he said the land was handed over by the government to an influential businessman. ‘The people have not got back their land in the Jamuna Bridge area. Now what we see there is a resort for rich people,’ he said.

The division changed the name of the proposed company, Coal Bangla, to Khani Bangla so that other mines such as rock mine could be brought under the authority of the company.

The details of the mining method could not be immediately known. Sources in the division could not confirm whether any change was made in the recommendations submitted by the Patwari committee regarding open-pit mining.
 The Patwari committee recommended operating an open-pit mine first to observe the viability of the method in Bangladesh before adopting the method for other mines.

The division, however, did not make any change regarding the bar on coal export, royalty rate and coal sector development committee.