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Dhaka Monday,  Dec 6, 2021

Activists call for implementation of Phulbari agreement

Member Secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port Professor Anu Muhammad has asked the government to implement the Phulbari agreement, which remained pending for 15 years.

“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself said that the consequences will be grave if the agreement is not executed. The Awami League government has been in power for the last 10 years but they have not implemented it either,” he said.

Prof Anu Muhammad, a professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, made the statement on Thursday following a program of the committee commemorating 15 years of the Phulbari tragedy.

Among others, Central United Communist League General Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Nannu, Socialist Labour Party General Secretary Shamsul Alam and Phulbari unit Convenor of the national committee Saiful Islam Jewel were present at the program.

Prof Anu Muhammad said the six-point agreement signed between the residents of Phulbari and the then BNP government was supported by many political parties.

He called for the immediate execution of the agreement saying that any project that is harmful for the environment cannot be implemented in the country and companies like Asia Energy must be banned from Bangladesh.

Asia Energy, later renamed as GCM Resources Plc, is a London-based resource exploration and development company.

On August 26, 2006, people of the Phulbari area in Dinajpur erupted in protest against Asia Energy’s move to go for open-pit coal mining.

Amin, Salaken, and Tarequl were shot dead and more than 300 people injured when Bangladesh Rifles (now Border Guard Bangladesh) personnel opened fire to disperse the protesters.

After four days of the incident, the then BNP-led government signed a six-point agreement with the protesters led by the national committee.

The government agreed to cancel Asia Energy’s work permit in Bangladesh, scrap plans for open-pit mining, compensate the victims of BDR firing, and withdraw complaints lodged against the Phulbari protesters.

The then leader of the opposition Sheikh Hasina, now the prime minister, extending her support to the protesters, vowed that she would implement the agreement if she came to power.

But the agreement is yet to be fully implemented although 15 years have elapsed, alleged local leaders of the national committee.

The injured are still deprived of due compensation while the government has not scrapped its plan for open-pit mining at Barapukuria coal field violating the Phulbari agreement, speakers said at the event.

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