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Dhaka Saturday,  Apr 17, 2021

Probe panel blames ‘outside forces’ for Payra power plant clash

A high-powered government committee has said in its report that the clash between Bangladeshi and Chinese workers at the under-construction 1,320 MW Payra power plant in Patuakhali was fuelled by “outside forces”. The report, submitted Wednesday, blamed a quarter with vested interests for the clash. It also stole 50-60 laptops containing important power plant designs from the plant site, the probe committee, headed by additional secretary of the Power Division, Mohammad Helal Uddin, found out.

The probe report also said Bangladeshi worker, Swabindra Das, 32, died after falling into a boiler of the plant, as he was not wearing a safety belt. The agitating Bangladeshi workers attacked the Chinese workers and vandalised the construction site of the power plant as rumours spread that Chinese workers had mistakenly killed Swabindra and were trying to hide his body, the report said.

During the clash, seven workers, including five Chinese, were seriously injured. The government deployed nearly 600 law enforcers in the plant area after the incident. The high-power committee earlier imposed a 15-day “forced leave” on the temporary Bangladeshi workers of the under-construction power plant.

Following the deadly clash last Wednesday between Bangladeshi and Chinese workers, which resulted in the death of a Chinese worker, the government committee decided on the forced leave. Talking to The Independent, M Khorshed Alam, managing director of the BCPCL, the implementing agency of the plant, said the board has taken some decisions at a meeting.

These include, provision of teaching Chinese to Bangladeshi workers and Bangla to Chinese workers and improving the living condition of the Bangladeshi workers. The members of the family of the dead Bangladeshi worker and the Chinese worker have already been given Tk. 15 lakh by the EPC contractor. They will receive additional money from the CSR fund of the BCPCL.

Khorshed Alam said they have also requested the Superintendent of Police to increase the number of local security personnel at the plant. This includes increasing the security personnel to 150 per shift from the existing 70.

At a press conference held at the plant site, Bangladesh China Power Company Limited (BCCPL) project director, Shah Abdul Mawla, said: “The first unit of this project will be ready for production by December 30. With this goal, full-time work will start in the power plant area with Bangladeshi and Chinese workers within the next few days.”

He said Chinese workers have started work on improving damaged equipment and infrastructure for the Payra power plant. Besides, steps have been taken to create work environment and eliminate language problems.

He also said that the violent incident that took place last Tuesday was unacceptable. Treatment of Chinese and Bangladeshi workers injured in the incident was going on. Many people have already returned home safely.

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