Coal News of Phulbari – Bangladesh

News on coal resources & coal basins of Bangladesh

Archive for October, 2008

Coal potential much higher than current access

Posted by phulbarinews on October 26, 2008

Abir Mahmud

Coal production in South Asia is significant to ensure the region’s future energy security but its resource potential is larger than what is currently being accessed, a study report revealed recently. The region’s fuel dependency can be diverted to coal from imported oil and natural gas for electricity generation. The price of coal has historically been more stable than those for oil or natural gas and help domestic industries, the report noted.

The Houston-based Center for Energy Economics and Arlington based PA Government Services Inc jointly prepared the report that was published in the latest energy security quarterly of the USAID sponsored South Asia Regional Initiative for Energy (Sari/Energy). Energy security of South Asia can be significantly enhanced if domestic coal resources can be developed, coal imports can be increased and a regional power pool can facilitate electricity trade supported by a diverse generation portfolio of coal, hydro, natural gas and renewable, the report noted. India is a major producer and importer of coal and has about 10% of the world’s total reserves in South Asian region that also comprises Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Though the present proved reserves in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Nepal are quite small those have long life, as production is also very small, the report pointed out. Indian reserves are mostly anthracite and bituminous coal while Pakistan has mostly lignite. In Bangladesh, domestic production is high quality bituminous used in power generation, while lower quality imported coal is used in brick kilns and steel re-rolling mills. Currently all countries in the region, including India, are net importers of coal. Although most of coal imports in the region consist of coking coal, primarily for steel industry, increasingly more coal is imported for power generation. Only India has a high share of coal-fueled power generation (over 53%).

The share of coal in Pakistan’s energy balance has fallen at least five-fold since 1958 to 7% in 2006, and coal-fired generation represents only 0.2% of the total electricity production in the country. The only coal-fired power plant in Pakistan is the 30-MW plant in Lakhra. In Bangladesh only the 250-MW mine mouth plant at the Barapukuria mine is operating since January 2006, accounting for a little over 5% of generation in the country. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh relied on domestic natural gas for meeting their growing energy needs. But depletion in existing fields and delays in new exploration and development investment limits the growth potential for natural gas. The study said that coal consumption by power sector in India would grow by 2.4% per year to 506 Mt in 2030, with additional 104 gigawatts (gw) of net coal-fired electricity generation capacity to be built during this period.

The Integrated Energy Policy Committee of India has recently made a multi-scenario forecast on domestic coal demand until 2032 next. The Indian projected demand is 2.7 billion tons under the dominant coal scenario, 2.02 billion tons under the reference case and 1.4 billion tons under the low coal scenario. Under all scenarios lignite is assumed to constitute about 2-3% of total coal demand. Under the reference case the near-term demand is expected to grow 32% by 2012. In order to cover the gap between projected demand and supply, India is expected to import about 100 Mt in 2011-2012, more than doubling from 2006.

Pakistan plans to increase coal production from less than four Mt to 20 Mt by 2015 primarily using the Thar basin deposits. Similarly, Bangladesh aims to increase production from current one Mt to 20 Mt within the next decade, the study says. In India, exploration activity has been carried out almost exclusively by the central mine planning and design institute limited. Although Pakistan allowed private companies to operate in the coal-mining sector, the country’s coal resources remain underdeveloped. Increasing coal supply in South Asia is faced with several constraints including lack of investment in exploration & development, decreasing productivity in producing mines, inadequate transportation and absence of domestic private sector expertise.

Coal prices and delay in project approvals also hindering coal sector growth in South Asian region. Pointing to infrastructure constraints the report pointed out that South Asian countries are yet to establish sufficient rail or riverine coal transportation systems. Coal transportation in India by rail has been steadily decreasing over the last few years. The country’s railroad system is overloaded and accommodation of additional coal freights might represent a challenge. Bangladesh Rail, in contrast, while moving approximately 3.5 Mt of freight per year over its entire network has significant spare capacity. The report also opined that increasing coal-fired generation capacity in South Asia, along with generation based on natural gas, hydro, and renewable such as wind and solar would contribute significantly to meeting growing energy demand in the region and improving the quality of life for the citizens of South Asian countries. These benefits can be enhanced via increased trade of electricity through an integrated grid, or power pooling. Coal, as a relatively cheap base load generation fuel, can provide an anchor for regional electricity trade over this integrated grid.


Date: 26 October 2008, Bangladesh


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“Social and Environmental Impacts of Mining-Australian Lessons on Mitigation”

Posted by phulbarinews on October 20, 2008

Khondkar Abdus Saleque

Recently the author had opportunity to read a report on Phulbari Open pit Coal Mining of Bangladesh, “Open Pit Mining for Coal: Horror Feeling Shrouds Northern Bangladesh.”  It will not be prudent to challenge the contents of the report. But there are ways to mitigate the social and environmental impacts associated with coal mining, any mining. Exploration and exploitation of any natural resource has some form of impacts. These need to be managed and mitigated. A country like Bangladesh with finite natural resources cannot have the luxury to keep its resources buried for ages and continue to suffer from energy crisis. Some sacrifices need to be made unfortunately for greater gains of community. Some decisions need to be taken from head keeping the heart open.

Bangladesh as we all know is on the grip of the worst ever energy crisis. For various reasons its predominantly monofuel energy generation, supply is on the verge of collapse.  Industrial growth has almost become stand still; authorities are struggling to meet the demand of existing consumers. Crisis still persists even after making various load management and adjustments. Government does not have many options. It is extremely difficult for a developing economy like Bangladesh to import all its energy needs from very expensive and competitive world energy market. Extensive exploration and development for Petroleum may discover a few more gas reserves or expand the existing reserves. But these may not be enough to ensure the long term energy security of a country which can achieve a double digit growth for several years if only smooth supply of energy could be ensured. Bangladesh is believed to have about 65-70 tcf equivalent very high quality (High heat content, low ash content) bituminous coal reserve in the northern part of the country. Some of the discovered mines are at relatively shallow depth.


The prevailing geology (water saturated Dupitilla Overburden above coal layer) makes these ideal for surface — open pit mining. The other traditional option underground mining may be risky, uneconomic and not viable. We all know that surface mining can produce 85-90% coal in place while underground mining can produce only 20-25%. Both options have extensive environmental and social impacts. Surface mining will obviously impact the people of the region. They will need to the relocated, adequately compensated, properly rehabilitated. Other environmental concerns and impacts are to be appropriately mitigated.  

Bangladesh, a resource constraint country has very limited capacity of its own to take up mining with its own technical and financial resource. What can Bangladesh do? Can it wait and let its economy suffer irreparable damage or should it start mining in the most appropriate and economic method to explore most of its coal addressing all environmental and social issues as far as practicable? Bangladesh is not the one and only country of the world where these kinds of issues exist which complicate decision-making. But the countries have taken initiative to mine and mine economically taking the most appropriate economic mining options addressing all social and environmental impacts. Environmental groups are stronger in other countries. But government is also pro active and very alert to the people’s well fare. Mining proceeds without much fuss and national economy benefits from appropriate mining methods. But in Bangladesh government remains perplexed, hesitates to take decision, national energy security continues to go from bad to worse. Why the government is not trying to learn? 

Many non-resident Bangladeshis are engaged in appropriate research in reputed universities on environmental and social impacts of mining; few Bangladeshi professionals are also working in similar active mines. Instead of hearing from horses mouth why Bangladesh Government is getting confused from various myths and propagandas of a motivated section of society when business community and local entrepreneurs are urging government to take immediate decision on coal mining? The author has talked with few line professionals and some researchers in Australia and is presenting the lessons learned about the impacts of mining and mitigation measures.

A unique readiness to develop and deploy new technologies has enabled Australian minerals industry to endure the tough times, reap the benefits of the current resources expansion, and confront the industry’s pressing environmental responsibilities. The Australian mineral industry does more than use of technology to mine smarter. It is a world leader in the actual development of new mining technologies aimed at improving the industry’s performance. Beyond the discovery of the more effective and efficient ways of finding and extracting minerals, this innovation results in better ways of reducing environmental impacts, more effective ways of rehabilitating areas disturbed by mining, safer an healthier ways of working in the mines and more efficient ways of marketing and exporting products and services.

Mining & Sustainability

Some people say that the concept of “sustainability is increasingly emptied by unsustainable activities such as mining. Mining provides number of goods but it is base on the extraction of non-renewable resources and is unsustainable. Despite opposition from anti-mining campaigners, mining has been officially declared as “sustainable” in the world summit on Sustainable development. Humanity definitely needs certain amount of minerals to satisfy basic needs and it is also equally true that over consumption in one part of humanity may cause adverse impact on the livelihoods and environments of the other humanity, at the receiving en of mining. What is required is a perfect balance. Mining is an activity that needs to very properly planned with all probable and possible impacts identified, evaluated and mitigation planned. Mining is an activity that needs strict monitoring and control at every stage. People living in mining areas should have the capacity to take fully –informed decisions on the permissions to mine in the territories or decide on how to carry out activity and ensure environmental conservation and social justice. 

What is Mining?

Mining refers to the discovery and extraction of n minerals, metal or non metal , lying under the surface of the earth .Metals are mixed with many other elements , but occasionally large quantities of certain metals concentrate in a relatively small area are as deposit. The impacts of mining are related to mining itself, which frequently involves or produces hazardous substances. 

Mines vary in size according to extraction/ production per day. The method of mining specific mineral depends on the type, size and depth of the deposits and economic and financial aspects of the undertaking. Underground mining used to be the most commonly use method to extract large deposit until the middle of the 20th century. Technological progress and development of larger and more powerful machinery after the Second World War promoted opencast mining. The underground mines generally have less visible impacts on the environment than opencast mines. There is less disturbance of the grounds surface but it can affect the water by contaminating with acids and metals and by intercepting aquifers. The workers are exposed to more hazardous situations than those working in opencast mines. Progressively underground mining is being abandoned due to problems of profitability. Presently 60% of the materials mine in the world is extracted by opencast method causing devastation of ecosystem. 

Opencast mines look like a series of terraces arrange in great deep wide pits in the mile of a desolated and stark landscape, lacking any living resources. Quarries are surface mines, very similar to open cast mines, resulting in a desolated landscape with deep trenches between wide steps. Chemicals are used in leach mining to dissolve the metals from the mineral containing it, obtaining a very high rate of recovery. The chemical contaminates the surface and ground water. 

Environment and social Impacts of Mining

Mining is short-term activities with long-term effects. It is carried out in various stages, deposit prospecting and exploration stage, mine development and preparation stage, mine exploration stage and treatment of mineral stage-each involving specific environmental impacts. Preparation of access routes, topographic and geological mapping, geophysical work, hydro-geological research, deforestation of the land and elimination of vegetation affecting the habitats of hundreds of endemic species, consequent erosion and silting of the land, reduction of water table, contamination of the air, water and the land by chemicals such as cyanides, concentrated acids and alkaline compounds and air pollution caused by dust, gases and toxic vapour can have diverse affect on the environment and health and social life of the local communities.

Sulphur dioxide released from the mine causes acid rain, carbon dioxide and methane released by burning fossil fuels are the two greenhouse effect gases causing climate change. The sound of the machinery and the blasting in mining conditions that may become unbearable for local people and the forest wildlife. 

The Impacts of Mining on Women:

Mining also has distinct impacts an added burden on women. The women are deprived of the access to the benefits of mining developments, especially money and employment. Women become marginalised as the traditional roles of food gatherer, water providers, care – givers and nurturer are very much affected. Many women are pushed to enter into informal economy to find additional sources of income as the adverse impact to the environment caused by large –scale mining decrease the productivity of the fields and poisoned wild foods, marine life and animals. Alcohol abuse, drug addiction, prostitution, gambling, incest and infidelity increase in many mining communities which worsen cases of family violence against women, active and often brutal discrimination of the women in the workplace that is sanctioned or ignored by judicial and political institution. 

Lessons To Be Learnt From Australia:

Mining of coal and other mineral resources are one of the major backbones of Australian economy. Australians are no less environmental conscious nation than any. This is a country where freedom of speech, independent press, very transparent policies, and equal rights are prevalent. So it should not be considered irrelevant if one prescribes to follow Australian way of addressing and mitigating the social and environmental impacts of mining. Bangladesh can be immensely benefitted if it learns from Australian experience and trains its mining professionals in Australian mining industry. 

Let us have an insight into the sustainable planning for managing the impacts of mining at Moranbah and Bowen basin in Queensland, Australia.

Coal Reserve in the Bowen Basin

•          The Bowen Basin coalfield is one of Australia’s primary coal mining areas.

•          Sufficient known reserves exist in the Bowen Basin for over 200 years at current extraction rates.

•          The coalfield has some 20 operational mines, with a further 10-15 under consideration or in the early development stage.

•          Future development activity over the next 5-10 years is likely to be concentrated in the Moranbah and Nebo areas. 

 Issues to be Managed

•          Expansion of mining operations

•          Increase in workforce to support expansion

•          Rapid increase in Moranbah’s population — permanent and transient

•          Accommodating the workforce/population growth

•          Constraints on town expansion — coal reserves

•          Balancing local and State interests – valuable coal resources versus town expansion

•          Immediate, short, medium and long term management issues.

•          Mine expansion issues:

–         Environmental Impacts

•          Air quality

•          Noise

•          Water

•          Land disturbance

•          Mine rehabilitation

•          Mine subsidence

•          Methane gas emissions 

Managing the Issues

Ÿ         The Minister for Environment, Local Government, Planning and Women decided that the State will assist the Belyando Shire Council in resolving the issues associated with growth at Moranbah by:

–         establishing a Moranbah Growth Management Group (MGMG);  and

–         preparing a Mining Town Sustainable Management Framework.

The main task of the Moranbah Growth Management Group is to assist the Belyando Shire Council to prepare and achieve broad agreement to a Master Plan for short, medium and long-term options for sustainable management at Moranbah. 

•          Membership of the Group is to comprise

–         Jim Pearce, MP (Chair);

–         Belyando Shire Council;

–         Department of Local Government, Planning, Sport and Recreation;

–         BMA;

–         Anglo Coal;

–         Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Water;

–         The Office of the Coordinator-General; and

–         Others as required.

•          The Moranbah Growth Management Group will identify issues, policies and options, which may be taken to the Coal Industry Taskforce for consideration.  The Coal Industry Taskforce regularly reports to Cabinet Budget Review Committee on the progress of the Coal Infrastructure Program of Actions and will incorporate reporting on the Moranbah Growth Management Group into these reports.

Issues identified by MGMG

–         The need to identify options to manage immediate and short term growth

–         The timing and sequencing of development options to manage growth, which may also influence a correction in the housing market

–         The need to consider medium and long term issues to ensure sustainable management of Moranbah

–         Water supply

–         Management of the cumulative impacts of the current expansion of mining operations and any future plans to establish open cut mining operations in close proximity to Moranbah 

Sustainable Management in Mining Towns

Planning for Sustainable Communities

–         Managing the cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts

–         Managing cultural impacts

–         Managing the urban lifecycle – stages of growth (urbanization), decline (suburbanization), and rejuvenation (reverse urbanization)

–         Managing risks

–         Collaborative approach

–         Corporate Social Responsibility

–         Balancing a productive mining industry and sustainable and vibrant communities

–         Capacity for economic diversification 

Sustainable Management Outcome Statement

Protecting social, economic, cultural and environmental values and economic growth for the State for future generations in meeting community and mining industry interests. Through the State and local governments, the mining industry and communities are working collaboratively to support sustainable and vibrant communities and a productive mining industry.

Sustainable Management in Mining Towns

Planning for Sustainable Communities

–         Managing the cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts

–         Managing cultural impacts

–         Managing the urban lifecycle – stages of growth (urbanization), decline (suburbanization), and rejuvenation (reverse urbanization)

–         Managing risks

–         Collaborative approach

–         Corporate Social Responsibility

–         Balancing a productive mining industry and sustainable and vibrant communities

–         Capacity for economic diversification

In the past, Australian mining industry has had to overcome problems associated with harsh physical conditions and remote locations. Advanced technologies have been employed to reduce the high cost of operating in such adverse circumstances. A powerful motivating factor encouraging the use of new technologies has been the need to minimise the environmental impact of minerals industry activities. Such adoption and adaption of innovation has enabled the mining industry to survive decades of tough times, when it barely recovered the cost of investment capital. The industry has been able to employ technology to increase supplies even when prices were down, environmental and social stewardship responsibilities increased. 

Advanced Technology in Exploration

Air borne geophysical techniques are important in modern exploration. Remotely sensed data obtained from platforms in space and in air provide high-resolution images of the earth’s crust. When these are combined with other data in sophisticated imaging and modelling softwares, they enable the identification of targets for detailed ground investigation.

Innovative Technology for Extraction and Processing

In mining and mineral processing, Australia is leading the world in harnessing new technologies such as biotechnology, ICT and e-commerce.

Examples include
The continual refinement of mine shapes and designs using advanced computer-modelling software. Use of intelligent robotic ore loaders in mining processes. Australia is also a world leader in the development of a comprehensive industry wide policy to improve heath and safety, both mineral operation and surrounding communities. Projects have aimed to improve the safety of drilling equipment, examine wear and tear of plant and equipment, develop risk analysis methods for the running of mine side operation and employ behavioural studies to examine issues such as fatigue management and impact of shiftwork on sleep management.

Environment Impact Mitigation Measures

The Australian mining industry is committed to achieving continual improvement in its environment management performance. This is demonstrated through strategic leadership initiatives such as “Enduring value- the Australian Minerals Industry Framework for Sustainable Development”

Some of the key technologies assisting the industry to minimise resource use and mitigate contamination risks are:
Dust suppression and soil stabilising products, which save up to 80% of the water normally used while also reducing labour and equipment costs.
Oxygen probes develop by CSIRO, capable of assessing levels of gaseous or dissolve oxygen concentrations in soil, ground water, bioreactors and tailing storage facilities in order to monitor potentially toxic waste.
Bio -fixation treatment system, which remove most contaminants and pollutants from waste water, effluent or soil, minimising environmental impact and providing a low n-cost treatment for the removal of suspended solids, ammonia and nitrogen.
Gas, ground water, aquifer and subsidence management in mines
New technology for the revegetation and rehabilitation of mined environments, such as Ecosystem Function Analysis technique developed by CSIRO.

Bangladesh sooner or later will have to start coal exploration. Given the geological, geophysical reality of the mine belt underground mining at least in Barapukuria and Phulbari will never become economically viable. Pursing this will be waste of time, energy and money. The population directly impacted can be relocated, compensated and rehabilitated. There are proven technologies to address all the perceived environmental impacts. Bangaldesh must realise the domestic coal industry will take 20 years to develop skills and capacity to even plan, manage mining and operate. We have to engage major mining companies, which have greater skills, appropriate technologies and greater all-round capacities to address and mange all challenges of mining in Bangladesh.  Our policy must have adequate incentives to encourage major mining companies. Small companies with inadequate resources and technology will take us for rides like the Chinese company in Barapukuria .It will benefit a particular section of society to squeeze benefit. Delay in coal mining will frustrate our efforts to attain energy security. It will benefit the coal importers and smugglers and their beneficiaries who want our coal to remain buried. Will facilitate neighbouring country to continue dumping poor quality coal to pollute our environment. Will Bangladeshi patriotic politicians judge the situation in its truest perspective?


Date: 20 October 2008, Bangladesh

Posted in Asia Energy, coal, Phulbari-news | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

“FDI must for Energy Security”

Posted by phulbarinews on October 20, 2008

Mollah M Amzad Hossain

Shahidul I Khan, Director of Center of Energy Studies at BUET, has said Bangladesh needs foreign investment for developing its energy sector and ensuring future energy security. Referring to FDI in the telecom sector, he said people are getting modern service at a competitive tariff only because of foreign investment. “Those who are opposing FDI in the energy sector are not realistic,” he said in an interview with the Energy & Power.

EP Editor Mollah Amzad Hossain took the interview. Following are the excerpts:

EP: How do you evaluate the overall energy sector of the country?

SIK: The overall situation of the country’s energy security is not good at all. If we look at the power situation in the summer we will see a gloomy picture. Our summer demand is 5,200 megawatt, but supply over 3,400 MW is not possible. The reason is gas crisis coupled with maintenance of the old plants. The proper management can improve the situation a bit, but totally overcoming the crisis is not possible. There is no alternative to set up new plants. And for that we have to ensure primary energy supply.

I think Bangladesh cannot afford running power plants by fuel oils. The solution is discovery of new gas and finding out other alternatives.

EP: Why we are not being able to set up new power plants. In fact, in last seven years there was no new plant.

SIK: In fact, we suffer from image crisis. That is why none is showing interest to invest. Also, the government alone cannot make the investment. One out of four companies selected as technically capable had submitted tender for the 450 MW Sirajganj plant during the fag end of the previous government. The response for Bibiyana is also not overwhelming. The country reached today’s state due to indecisiveness in the past. 

EP: You are talking about FDI in the energy sector. But a section of intellectuals and “Committee to Protect Oil-Gas” are opposing the FDI. 

SIK: The mentality of opposing the FDI is not correct. I think investment must come in any sector in a transparent manner no matter whether it is domestic or foreign. People are getting modern service at a competitive tariff in telecom only because of foreign investment in the sector. We have to give up the mentality of refusing FDI in the energy sector. 

EP: Referring to your opinion, I would like to go back to discuss the gas sector again. We need new discovery, but the plan to offshore exploration has been witnessing opposition from the very beginning. The government is also delaying the matter. 

SIK: We must not waste a single day in regards to offshore exploration. It is a question to me also that why the government is delaying the process. It will be unfortunate if the government takes decision based on opposition of a section of our civil society. I think all the efforts– local or foreign– have to be exploited for offshore exploration. We must not waste a single day. 

EP: You mentioned about alternatives. Coal can be one such alternative. But here we engaged into an endless debate.

SIK: Look, if we go for development there must be some impacts on the environment and ecology. Specially, in case of energy it is not possible to keep the environment totally harmless. But, the world progressed much. The technology of extracting energy resources maintaining minimum impact on environment is now at the hands. We are debating on coal without any reason. You know 40 percent of total power generation of the world is coal based. Also, in the developed world the share of coal-based electricity is 60 percent of their total power generation. We all know what is happening in Bangladesh. We are opposing coal extraction in the name of environment. But we do not say anything when, we keep our eyes closed and mum kept when coal with more than one percent sulphur is imported suspending the import policy.

However, we have developed Barapukuria coal mine. The Chinese company developed it under an agreement and also they are producing under a management agreement. We gathered some experiences although it is very limited.

On the other hand, we are opposing open pit mining in Phulbari and making people unrest. Do we really inform people about the truth? Specially some people who do not understand the coal policy or do not want to understand it are misleading people. That is the reason the alternative for electricity is not being developed. We have to come out of it.

EP: But, it is said that the agreement with Asia Energy is not legal. Country’s interests were also not protected.

SIK: What I want to say is that we have to produce coal. We need electricity and for that we need coal. The government will determine who will produce the coal. But, the government has not right to sit idle after taking a decision. I am not saying that Asia Energy has to be assigned for the job. If the agreement is illegal, if it is against the interest of the country the government has the right to cancel or amend it. Much have been discussed about it, but the government should project the truth before the nation. The government should inform people that how they want to develop the coal sector.

EP: But, it is alleged that the government is confused due to huge opposition. 

SIK: I believe those who are opposing FDI in energy sector and those who are welcoming the FDI and the government…. all want development of the energy sector. Now it is the responsibility of the government to go for open debate and reach a consensus. If the government wants, I believe real energy experts will come forward. And I think the experts should talk realistically, they should not give speeches like the politicians. 

EP: Now another aspect, we are wasting gas in generating electricity. The average efficiency of the PDB run power plants is 29 percent. On the other hand, two IPPs’ efficiency is 45 percent. As a result we are producing less power by putting more gas. What should we do? 

SIK: Without any debate, the answer is we have to come out of it. But it is not possible all of a sudden. So, skilled use of energy has to be ensured for all the future plants no matter small or big. I think we have to give highest priority to efficiency in selecting the technology. If necessary, we have to adopt the investment option for increasing the efficiency. However, we have to ensure efficiency also at the consumers’ level. 

EP: How can we ensure efficiency at the consumers’ level? Should it be through enacting law or campaign? 

SIK: First of all we have to ensure market price of energy. People do not go for skilled use of electricity or gas as it is cheaper in Bangladesh. I do not think enacting a law is the answer. Thirty to 35 percent of our electricity is used for lighting. We can reduce the demand by 80 percent by using CFL and LD technology. The government has to take special measures. 

Also, unskilled use of electricity is also taking place due to imported low standard motors and appliances. The government should ensure standardization and labeling. 

EP: You worked on renewable energy. What is the prospect in Bangladesh?

SIK: Look, many countries in the world including India have separate authorities for renewables, but we do not. Also, we do not have any policy. However, I appreciate the draft based on what the works are on in the country. This policy will play an important role in flourishing the renewable energy in Bangladesh. I think if we can take our RE based electricity to 80 MW or one percent when we are expecting 8,000 MW total generation.


Date: 20 October 2008, Bangladesh

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The new duet in climate change theatre

Posted by phulbarinews on October 7, 2008

Shaukat Mahmood

If the rise of one eleven empowers former British ambassador in Bangladesh Anowar Choudhury to play foul diplomacy inspiring by the theory of, so called ‘liberal imperialism’ of Tony Blaire, then how much the September 9’s ‘Britain-Bangladesh Climate Change Conference’ can significantly prove their changed mind set? The conference was waved by the music like of that ‘Sabash Bangladesh’ instead of the last two years’ classic music, that of corrupt Bangladesh. The struggle, courage and patience of Bangladeshi people to challenge and to survive the natural disaster are not a new story at all. But the British ratification regarding this and the international efforts to prepare Bangladesh as a model of climate change issue is really very significant.

In that conference of controlling the changing climate, the talk of controlling politics was not even pronounced for once in Royal Geographical Society Hall. That, Anowar Chaudhury was also absent but he was present in the dialogue of ‘Democracy in Bangladesh’ organized by the British Government on June 23. Surprisingly on the very same day last Bengal Ruler was lost to British in Palashey battle field in 1757. The local people who were loud against corruption remained surprisingly tight-lipped about corruption in September 9 conference. So one can thank them for their latest realization on corruption issue but the issue of political commitment to fulfill their action plan of $500 crore to control climate change was unrealized yet. Provably initiators have enough confidence in British Government’s capability to motivate the future political government in Bangladesh, to continue their project. Again political parties too need the votes of the natural disaster prone areas of 5 crore people where there are 1.5 crore solid votes. The world is warmer than any time today because of the omni and continuous industrialization of the rich nations.

As a result, the countries of low lining like Bangladesh have been suffering from regular flood, cyclone etc. Sidr and serial floods of 2007 in Bangladesh is a big example. As a result of sidr and flood the agricultural activities were stopped and the infrastructures were destroyed. The struggles of Bangladeshis to overcome these challenges were well noticed by the global people. The total ability of individuals crossed the ability of government. Because of the global warming three cores of people in Bangladesh will lose their land and profession in near future. Considering this, government and specialists have been working hard to highlight Bangladesh at international level. Though no nation in the world could do, Bangladesh has prepared an action plan. Before presenting the action plan in that September 9 conference, British government had donated $150 millions to Multidonar Trust Fund. As an amount though it is tiny but the British initiative is really unthinkable. Someone hissed into ear ‘Bengal was first British love’. I asked someone how is Anowar Choudhury? ‘He is fine, working in foreign department but in a low profile’ he answered. So far understood, probably his illicit diplomacy in Bangladesh was also disliked by British government. The present British ambassador in Bangladesh was also active in the September 9 conference but silently. He did not search TV cameras or journalists and even did not show extra interest to promote himself.

What Bangladesh will do?
The cruel tragedy is that, Bangladesh produces only .02% carbon, but she has been suffering for producing carbon by the other countries. China and India will build 700 coal driven electric plants within 2012. But being the owner of huge coal, Bangladesh could not utilize those to ensure progress and development of her. In the above mentioned action plan, the talk of open pit mining is inscribed. China, India and western countries have been following this method. But unfortunately Bangladesh has to obey the obligation that is not producing poisoned carbon. According to the data of government, the rate of using electricity per person is 140 KW/h in Bangladesh. Where as it is 325 KW/h in Sri Lanka, 408 KW/h in Pakistan, 663 KW/h in India, around 8000 KW/h in Europe and 10 000 KW/h in USA! 70% of Bangladeshis are not getting electricity. According to Power Sector Master Plan, Bangladesh will produce 43 thousand Megawatt of electricity within 2025 to meet the demand, among which 33 thousand Megawatts of electricity will be produced from coal only. But if we agree with rich countries to reduce carbon gas, how will we meet the demand of power and energy and how will we ensure our development?

The big question, what will happen, if according to Kiyoto protocol and Bali Framework Convention, after 2012 the mining of dirty coal be stopped? To avoid that declaration, Bangladesh has to produce coal at large scale before 2012. Data shows that Bangladesh has 1 thousand and 542 million tons of usable clean coal in five different fields. Among this, 1374 million tons coal can be produced through open pit mining and 463 million tons by close method. If we follow underground method, then we have to incur lose of one thousand billion dollar. In London conference finance adviser and specialists told that Bangladesh has to utilize oil-gas-coal to ensure her development. Where rich countries are not obeying Kyoto protocol and China-India-Brazil go for massive use of coal, why Bangladesh will keep coal underneath the soil and tolerate the sufferings of climate change? The agents of developed countries inspire country like Bangladesh not to use their coal. They bought shares of poor countries to add those points to their share to continue to produce carbon gas. The practice is known as carbon trade or carbon colonialism. It is heard that some environmentalists and economists are given huge bribe to build mass movement against coal mining. This fascist environmentalism is a new problem for Bangladesh.

Aren’t we backtracking?
Where is Bangladesh, in international politics of environment? Officials of Environment Ministry can make their vision gloomy. With the G 77 nations, Bangladesh is a supporter of reducing carbon by the rich nations by 50% within 2050. Through signing agreement with Britain, Bangladesh is backtracking and she will join Copenhagen World Environment Conference in 2009 holding the hand of Britain, where there will be huge disputation on carbon trading and carbon issue. Bangladesh may face hate of poor nations. Bangladesh was kept out in Uruguay Round Dialogue by the poor countries once. Foreign and Environment Ministry, civil societies are in one side and ERD is in opposite side. Foreign Ministry was against of signing that day and they protested welcoming the declaration of G 8. They were also against of making World Bank as an administrator of Multidonar Trust Fund.

World Bank always prefers debt not donation. Poor countries always demand to get donation, as they sufferer for the activities of rich countries. But why our finance adviser signed the treaty with Britain and made World Bank an administrator was not understood. Replying to the question of the journalists finance adviser told that they had to understand the reality. The private members of Bangladesh contingents did not ask any question though they were loud in another meeting with British NGOs. Now the million-dollar question is why Britain was proactive to sign the treaty? Why they completed the work with caretaker government whereas election is going to be held within few months? The reasons can be well explained in many ways.

Interest of Britain
The apathy of Republican led white House inspires Britain to lead the international environment politics. Why Britain will not grab the easy credits by giving some donations to Bangladesh though Bangladeshis faced disasters by their chest, which was the first capital of British colony? British Environment Minister Fil Ullas said that the development of Britain and Bangladesh is designed on same formula. Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the world to look at the courageous people of Bangladesh in a Video message. International Development Minister crosses all, saying, “We thought we will provide 30 million pound after sidr but now we have decided to give 75 million pound.”

Britain is an especial friend of Bangladesh since one eleven. British ministers and officials have been stepping their feet regularly in ZIA. British foreign minister David Milliband visited Bangladesh on 8-9 February after one era of any British foreign minister’s visit. His speech in Dhaka was echoed by Gordon Brown. Miliband said,” Britain and Bangladesh have entered the phase of ‘a new special partnership’. The out of date relationship that centered on aid and Britain’s colonial past has ended to make way for a shared agenda based on co-operation in trade and facing climate change and terrorism.” Besides, Britain wants Bangladesh against the so called war against terrorism. Britain strengthens the monitoring of fundamentalism activities in Bangladesh. But Britain has to understand communist fundamentalism is an old problem for Bangladesh. And the problem of climate change is always with us.

Liberal Imperialism
We need to rethink and understand the speech of Milliband especially ‘colonial past’, according to him, at the end of that new possibilities rise. With that we want to mention the preface of ‘Freedom Next Time’ by the leftist writer John Philgar. He said that poor nations believe that if Democrat in USA and Labor party in UK stay in power, then the world would be war free, but this is wrong. During the regime of Clinton and Blaire, they went to more countries to take part in war. He said west is not regretful about their colonist role; rather they are proud of that. Britain was back from the mentality of ruling other countries after 2nd world war. But after the fall of Soviet Union in 90 decade, the rise of price hike, capital and money crisis, fall of share markets in developing countries paved the way for colonials to come back through the tool of World Bank and IMF. On January 15, 2005 the then finance minister, now the ruling prime minister, Gordon Brown, said to Daily Mail, “The days of Britain having to apologies for the British Empire is over.

We should celebrate.” Before that, Nial Farguson, an Oxford professor of political science wrote appreciating the new imperialism of Tony Blaire, “Imperialism may be a dirty word, but when Tony Blaire is essentially calling for imposition of western values, democracy and so on- it is really the language of liberal imperialism imposing your views and practices on others”. [Guardian, October 31, 2001] Western theorists started to say that new imperialism would solve the problems. They started to advocate operating human intervention in poor countries to remove corruption and to implement rule of law. Japan sent armies to Manchuria saying that. However, it started the politics of condition. Pilgar informed,” Michacl Ignatief, former professor of human rights at Harvard and an enthusiastic backer of the West’s invasions, prefers liberal intervention. From the same lexicon of modern imperial euphemisms have come ‘good international citizen’ (a western vessel) and ‘good governance’ (a neo liberal economy run by the world Banks/IMF). Once noble concepts have been appropriated: democracy (pro Washington regime) and reform (dismantling genuine social reforms) and ‘peacekeeping’ (war) … imperialism of the liberal may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature- its conviction that it represents a superior form of life.

A group of civil society and its various activities like movement for good governance and honest politician have been flourishing in our country since 90s by the financial and psychological favor of USAID, DFID and others. Their role proves their relationship with liberal imperialism. If there is any commitment of one eleven to clean the politics, that was engulfed by the civil society. They used one eleven to fulfill their own agenda. They leveled politicians as enemy. They had been promoting own people in all big positions of the government. Some of them declared that the one eleven is empowered by the United Nations and liberal imperialism. But the failure of realizing this by the politicians and the limitless corruption opens the door for liberal imperialist and civil societies. The foul diplomacy of Butenis and Anowar Chaudhury and the dependence of politicians on them make many to be worried.

What is Bangladesh’s route?
Britain may help Bangladesh to pocket Bangladeshis vote in favor of troubled labor party in upcoming election or Britain may be regretful for foul diplomacy of Anowar Chaudhury, but we want to concentrate on a theory of eminent editor and journalist Fareed Zakaria. He said in his book ‘Post American World’ that though the rise of China-India-Brazil by the side of USA-UK power centres is clear but the influence of USA-UK will not end soon. Bangladesh is desperate to stand on her feet and to raise her GDP, but still weak comparing with India. Present government is full of the people of free market economy, past people were not different, in future they may be same. But we have to understand why Bangladeshis like to go Washington through Dubai-Qatar route avoiding Kolkata-Delhi. Bangladesh has to walk through this way with caution and balance. British people did not get big projects during present regime, rather Indian and American companies are being benefited.

What are the big challenges for Bangladesh in 21st century of liberal imperialism? To uphold own identity, developing power and energy sector, to walk with west to improve business and to control terrorism with caution, to deepen the relationship with China and to work to change the mindset of India are the most important challenges for Bangladesh. Own dignity, religiousness, liberalism, democracy and the combination of China’s economic democracy and west’s political democracy be the new features of Nationalism. Big political parties like BNP, AL, JP and JI definitely will try to get the support of disaster prone 1.5 crore votes. Besides this we have to ensure the safety of environment and to produce massive power to fulfill future electricity demand. Let us demand to lift disaster prone people of Bangladesh to west. We can demand on UK to facilitate huge employment opportunity for Bangladeshis. No treaty can be made against the interest of Bangladeshis. China and India have been progressing by utilizing the opportunity of foreign investment.

Couldn’t finance adviser tell that next elected government will decide on giving the responsibility to World Bank? Couldn’t he ask Britain to declare the declaration of the conference without signing?

Let us go to Rabindranath to rescue ourselves Bangladesh
Remove the dust; stop weeping and no begging sigh
Revamp the face, hold the vigor and keep the head high
The flat world invites you to join its march
Awake, run on the track, and overlook the call of slavery, catch the torch


Date: 28 September 2008, Bangladesh

Posted in Phulbari-news, Power & Energy | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Demand for Removal of Special Assistant Dr Tamim

Posted by phulbarinews on October 7, 2008

Saleque Sufi

National (?) Oil, Gas, Power, Mineral Resource and Port Protection Committee have demanded immediate termination the assignment of DR. M. Tamim Special Assistant of Chief Advisor for Energy. According to them, Dr Tamim is acting   as agent of imperialist and multinational companies engaged in looting natural and national resources. The allegation is really serious. If there is any merit of what they are saying this will be essential to do something soon. Some one acting as agent of imperialist can not remain in privileged position he really so?

Let us look into the whole affair. Who is this committee? What they are up to? What else other than creating the present indifferent situation in our energy situation, massive decline of FDI they have achieved so far? Are they all very committed and successful professionals in their respective areas of work?  Are they aware that for their hue and cry successive governments failed to take appropriate decisions to explore and exploit country’s energy resources in time to meet the present demand and emerging crisis? Are they aware that their action is directly or indirectly benefiting energy sector mafias, coal merchants and smugglers? Are they aware that their actions are benefiting neighbouring countries in accessing our resources in the Bay of Bengal unchallenged? Can they raise fund for BAPEX to explore for gas and oil in all areas? Are they aware that it will take at least 10 years for BAPEX to acquire all technology and expertise to even explore in deeper structures onshore, not to speak about offshore? Are they aware that the country does not have any expertise to explore and develop coal resource at this moment?

Definitely they know all answers but they are still agitating. Dr Tamim is an experienced Petroleum Engineer, a very keen learner and as far as I know he is no lesser patriot than most of us. The author differs with him on several issues but can not accept the blame that he is an agent of imperialist and multinational companies. If our self styled patriots can produce any authentic document then USA or UK where from the IOCs originate will take actions. Companies of these countries are bound by very stringent anti corruption rules of business. These countries have very strong policies to handle such issues. The rival companies will also pounce on any such incident.

Since Tamim took charge he has tried desperately to roll things moving. One of the successes is definitely the progress made in deep water drilling. The PSC document has lot of value additions in favour of Bangladesh government obviously from our now very significant exposure to production sharing contracts. When CTG is about to complete approval process the idenfied group has started agitation. 

CTG is doing so many things for steadying our rocking boat then why they can not make ward of blocks to IOCs for deep water drilling as the selection process was very transparent. Who does not know that India and Myanmar want us to delay such exploration efforts? Has ever any government in the past gone for public opinion for any such cases? When the draft PSC was on website why our so called experts did not give their expert opinion? Energy experts are not raising any questions about how those persons raising alarm are handling the affairs in their own places or who are funding them to rally here and carrying out propaganda missions abroad.

We should have engaged IOCs for deep water drilling long time back and we all know Bangladesh do not have any technical expertise or resources for this work and will require decade to achieve it. The way this patriots are agitating it can create doubts in people’s mind whether this group is acting as agents of imperialist neighbors? So DR Tamim can be given benefit of doubt for deep water drilling and should rather give credit for it. If the selected IOCs are engaged now they may be in a position to commence exploration works in 2009 and we may get some good news by 2011. Further delay will not only make our situation terrible but also will leave India and Myanmar unchallenged in adjacent and some say in our own water.

Petrobangla, EMRD and other public companies engaged in energy business have definite mandate to carry out assigned responsibilities. There are laid down procedures for taking up projects and getting these approved. For carrying out their assigned works it is not required to seek people’s mandate. Well some very lopsided and anti people contracts like Scimitar deal, Niko Scandal, award of Petrobangla owned field to Occidental in the past must have reasons to be agitated .But this government is the first which has taken positive initiative to probe the irregularities. Definitely these are not happening without the knowledge of DR. Tamim. Then can we take some clue that the present action of the so called patriots has been fanned up by the beneficiaries of those scams?

Petrobangla companies have failed to accomplish their assigned responsibilities. Why Petrobangla did not arrange required fund to strengthen BPAX with men and materials? Why Bapex is lying idle with several vital exploration blocks 8 & 11? Why Petrobangla companies failed to carry out 3D seismic survey of major fields and expand its capacity in several years? So if the protection committee is to agitate at all it should agitate against these failures. What the protection committee is doing about leaking Titas gas field? Is not the protection of dangerously leaking Titas gas field urgent? Slowly and surely the situation is emerging in a way that the actions of the committee is serving purpose of hostile neighbours who do not want Bangladesh to become self reliant in energy , self sufficient in anything . Why the so called patriots do not agitate when India unethically trying to deprive Bangladesh from its right on South Talpatty island? 

This protection committee is solely responsible for the uneasy situation in the coal belt. They have agitated people and should bear the responsibility for the loss of life of innocent misguided people. What other options Bangladesh have than to aggressively go for coal mining? What methods other than surface mining can economically recover sufficient coal safely to meet the countries energy demand? These people if they are truly patriot must agitate to ensure that the affected people are adequately compensated, properly rehabilitated and the environmental impacts are effectively mitigated. But their actions have confused the policy makers. The consequence is massive shortage of energy in National Energy Grid. Investors local and foreign are getting increasingly frustrated. Can Bangladesh ever come out of the vicious circle of poverty if there are not massive investments in down stream manufacturing sector to boost our export, to create employment for our unemployed masses?

Our journalists should also be extremely careful about these issues. In this time of IT boom all news of print media are floated right across the globe. Any news which apparently creates doubts and confusions about investment climate of the country creates bad image, discourages investors. Even the local investors, Business group are anxious

 We should try to realise in the last two years despite of relative over all discipline, much better law and order situation the flow of FDI recorded massive decline in Bangladesh while it recorded significant increase elsewhere. Is this a happy situation for Bangladesh? In the name of protection what our committee is protecting?. Will Bangladesh get swept away into Bay of Bengal with all its resources buried underground? Or we will explore and exploit this to c endeavour for achieving long term energy security? These people are hypocrites it seems.

Dr Tamim has several failures but his action for initiating deep water drilling can not be the reason to seek his removal.


Date: 07 October 2008, Bangladesh

Posted in coal, Phulbari-news | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »