Speaking on the occasion of Phulbari day at the Central Shaheed Minar, leaders of the national committee to protect oil, gas, mineral resources, power and port on Saturday called for the Awami League-led government to scrap the controversial Rampal power plant project and fulfill the Phulbari agreement immediately.
“The government is working to protect the interests of multinational corporations and imperialist forces, but movements staged by the people to protect national interests have never failed,” said Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, convener of the national committee, at a brief rally.
He urged the government to scrap the Rampal project as consequences for the Sundarbans as a result of the power plant would be catastrophic, and stressed that locals would resist the project just as they did against the open-pit coal mine in Dinajpur 11 years ago.
Furthermore, Shahidullah demanded that the six-point demands agreed upon between protesters and then BNP-led government on August 30, 2006, be fulfilled, expressing his dismay that Asia Energy were still operating in the country.
During demonstrations against the construction of an open-pit coal mine by Asia Energy in Phulbari coal field on August 26, 2006, three protesters - Aminul, Tarikul and Salekin – were killed in gunfire by police. The day has since been observed as Phulbari Day, in remembrance of the demonstrations.
Four days after the three were killed, the then BNP-led government agreed to six-point demands by protestors that included the banning of open-pit mining and the expulsion of Asia Energy from Bangladesh.
This year, various student and political organisations including the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, Revolutionary Workers Party and Ganasanghati Andolan laid wreaths at the base of Shaheed Minar in memory of the victims of the tragedy.