Shamim Jahangir, The New Nation, April 7, 2009
The process for establishing a coal-mining city comprising four thanas in Dinajpur will start this month.
Initially the government will establish the coal-mining city with 10,000 people of Birampur, Fulbari, Parbatipur and Nababganj thanas on an experimental basis, Prime Minister Adviser for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury Birbikram told the New Nation yesterday.
Afterward, we will extend the area of the city in phases, he added.
He said they will sit with the planners and experts from LGED, BUET and BRAC soon and seek their opinion on the establishment of the mining city.
He said that the ministry has already prepared a draft map to establish the city.
"The government will ensure all the modern facilities in the coal mining city. For this, coal mining university, college, school, community hospital and different industrial units will be established at the city," according to him.
State Minister for Environment and Forests Advocate Mostafizur Rahman, who was elected MP from Dinajpur coalmine area, told the New Nation that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina dreamt of establishing a coal mining city when she visited Dinajpur in 1998.
After formation new government in 2009, she again directed us to find out the possibility of establishing it in Dinajpur.
It was also the demand of the people of Fulbari and Parbatipur thanas, he informed.
He held out the assurance that the government will give due compensation to the families to be affected for building the coalmining city.
Meanwhile, the government constituted a 8-memeber committee to
determine compensation for the resettlement of 406 affected families of Barapukuria in Dinajpur coalmine project.
The committee has already identified five worst affected families of Kalupara and Moupukur villages and called for removing them to safer places as they are living in the coal mining area with great risk to their lives and properties. But the members of these five families have vehemently opposed their rehabilitation at other places unless they were given due compensation.
"We have already visited the coal mining areas several times and prepared our report on the basis of our talks with the affected families," a member of the committee said on the condition of anonymity.
He further said that they would recommend rehabilitation of more than 200 families of Kalupara and Moupukur villages first and then rest of the families of five other villages in coal mining area in phases.
In reply to a question, he said that the committee is yet to assess the size of compensation for the affected families.
The committee will recommend acquiring around 33.5 square kilometres of land at seven affected villages falling in coal mining area by resettling the affected people, he added.
An inter-ministerial meeting on March 3 constituted the eight-member committee to prepare a complete package programme for compensating people affected by land subsidence at the coal mine area and for future course of action including acquiring of land. The meeting also asked the committee to review the land acquiring procedures like Jamuna Bridge. The committee is headed by joint-secretary Ahmed Ullah of the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
The government will acquire the land as early as possible for starting open pit mining in future, sources said.
Affected people at Barapukuria have become restive in recent times as huge land subsidence affected 300 acres of land and subsequently many houses at seven villages have developed cracks.
Following the agitation of Jhigagari villagers the coal production of Barapukuria remained suspended from February 25 to March 2.
More land subsidence might occur because of the underground mining. If people continue to live in the mining areas they might be at great risk because of subsidence, sources said.
The committee is likely to recommend a guideline for the government to appoint experts or surveyors to determine what amount of compensation of the people in the area need,
'Before assessing the compensation package, finding the actual number of people living in the area, determination of agricultural and residential land, number of houses, trees and the cost of crops are crucial. Besides, peoples' views should be taken on where they want to go and what they want to do after relocation,' sources noted.
The government has already constructed and renovated several building to resettle the affected families at West Camp in Dinajpur.
The Barapukuria coal field has a reserve of around 389 million tonnes and the authorities will extract 10 to 20 per cent coal from the underground mine in 30 years