Coal News of Phulbari – Bangladesh

News on coal resources & coal basins of Bangladesh

Archive for November, 2008

“Don’t Hinder Development of Southwest”

Posted by phulbarinews on November 17, 2008

Mollah M Amzad Hossain

How can it be that we have resources, but we will not utilize it? That is how Khulna city Mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque expressed his surprise at the opposition to development of the country’s coal sector. In an interview with the Energy & Power, he said: All the major countries in the world are utilizing their coal for electricity generation. Our neighbor India has also been producing coal. We don’t see any opposition by the environmentalists. If they can produce coal why not we?


“I think that the government should take a quick decision for development of our coal sector,” said the Khulna Mayor. He said the Dinajpur region has reserves of world-class coal. “If we can explore, we will be able to export after meeting the domestic demand,” he said adding it will pave the way for development of Mongla Port which will play an important role in overall socio-economic development of the southwestern region of the country. The Mayor urged all not to hinder development of southwestern region by opposing coal projects which is very crucial for overall development of the country. The EP Editor Mollah Amzad Hossain took the interview. Following are the excerpts:


EP: You are a popular Mayor of a city corporation where energy is a major concern. What is the way to come out of the problem?

TAK: Right you are. There are some problems we ourselves can resolve. But, in case of some other problems we have to depend on others. Energy is one such problem. Everyone knows Khulna is out of gas supply, also the power supply is less than the demand. Load-shedding is a frequent phenomenon in Khulna. But, the corporation is helpless in this regard. The responsible organization is the PDB. Once the city corporation was responsible for water supply is Khulna. Now WASA is working to ensure the water supply. They are setting up new deep tube-wells to mitigate the water crisis. I think only deep tube-wells cannot ensure water supply for all the citizens, for this we need utilization of surface water.


EP: The development of western region is being hampered due to power and gas crisis. What should we do?

TAK: Gas and electricity are two major problems for southwestern part of the country. Compared to other parts of the country, this region is more deprived. We are totally deprived of gas supply although other parts of the country are getting natural gas. People are unhappy over the deprivation years after years. We wrote to the government for gas supply to this region of the country. The Sundarban Gas Company is supposed to supply gas to 22 districts. We requested that it should be expedited. The company has been formed. But we want practical action.


Also, there is a plan to bring gas over Kushtia. I think this is not a right action plan. The government should supply gas to this area from Shahbazpur. I sought Chief Advisor’s cooperation on overall energy supply for this region.

EP: Khulna is a coastal city. If gas is discovered in the offshore, Khulna will be one city that will be benefited. But a group of people are opposing the bid.

TAK: It is a matter of wide spectrum. Obviously we have to protect our environment. Also, we don’t want that our limited natural resources remain unutilized beneath the soil or water in the name of environment protection. We have to reach a consensus. We should follow other countries who are producing oil and gas maintaining their environment.


I do not think that the government should sit with the people who are opposing energy sector development with lame excuses, and resolve the issue. Had there been a political govt, we could have brought the issue in light. But now there is a caretaker government and it should work with its own capacity. We should not waste time. We do not have any alternative to develop our own resources.

EP: How do you look at overall power sector development and the condition in the southwestern issue.

TAK: Not only western region, the electricity supply situation across the country is in a vulnerable state. The condition was also in a critical state when the Awami League government took over in 1996. At that time the total generation was only 1,600 megawatt. The Awami League government took some emergency measures. The result was that the generation reached at 4,050 MW during the end of the Awami League government. They also maintained a balance in between the east and western part of the country. We were successful in launching operation of 110 MW plant in Khulna in only 9 months. Moreover, there were several projects in the pipeline when the Awami League left power. But the next government did not take any step leaving the country in a serious power crisis. Even the present government in last two years could not make any headway.


Although the BNP-Jamaat government could not rise generation they expanded the distribution line for their own profit. As a result, the crisis intensified. A State Minister of the coalition government himself admitted the theft and resigned. The power sector falling prey to the looters is now in a serious state. And people of southwestern region are the worst sufferers. Some 14 people had to sacrifice their lives for electricity which is an unprecedented incident in the world.


EP: Bureaucracy kills time in taking any decision in Bangladesh. We see it is acute in case of projects relating to southwestern region. What do you say?

TAK: It is true. Project implementation in Bangladesh is being deferred due to various obstruction and illogical demands. It is acute in case of energy sector projects. Specially if a project is taken for southwest it does not progress. Gas production in Bhola’s Shahbazpur did not start in last 15 years. Also, while visiting Dinajpur the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had declared it a mining region. But, the follow-up did not take place and proper steps were not taken for development of coal and stone sectors.

EP: But a group of people are opposing coal sector development projects. Their allegation is that deforestation will take place if coal is produced.

TAK: We have resources and proper utilization of the resources is a must. It can not be that we will not use the resources. I think the government should not waste time and take a decision. Is it that we are the lone nation willing to produce coal? Not really. As far as I know big countries like USA, China and India generate 60 percent of their electricity from coal. How the are producing coal? We do not see any opposition to coal production in India. Even they are producing coal in our frontier areas. It means we can produce coal, too.

EP: So, do you think we should go for coal production?

TAK: Look, Bangladesh has reserves of world class coal. We can meet our domestic demand and also export the surplus. And the export can pave the way for permanent development of Mongla Port which will play an important role in overall socio-economic development of the southwestern region of the country. Those who are opposing coal production, in fact are trying to stop the development of entire southwestern region. We cannot progress without energy and for that there is no alternative to coal production.

EP: There was a plan to set up an oil refinery near Mongla Port. What is the situation?

TAK: A site was selected for an oil refinery when Mongla Port was introduced in 1951. But, no step was taken in last 57 years for setting up the refinery. Had it been developed, the entire western region would get oil supply from it. We should not waste a single day and go for the refinery.

EP: What is your observation about cross-border energy trade?

TAK: Look, no country in the world can meet its demand alone. Also we cannot. I think we should develop good relations with all the countries and import electricity from Nepal, Bhutan and India.

EP: Have you any plan that the three Mayors of the southwest will work together for the overall development?

TAK: Obviously we will work together for development of the southwestern region of the country. Already I and Rajshahi Major Khairuzzaman Liton issued DO letter for starting gas supply. We want to work together.



Date: 01 November 2008


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Businesses demand hartal-free environment from next govt

Posted by phulbarinews on November 5, 2008

FE Report

CHITTAGONG, Nov 03: Country’s leading businesses demanded Monday that hartal, demonstration free and business friendly environment should have to be ensured by the next elected government to enable them run their businesses smoothly and give a further boost to the economic growth.

They were speaking at the country’s first ever business conference held at Chittagong organised by the FBCCI in collaboration Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI). “We want a guarantee from the next elected government that they will not call any hartals and other destructive activities and all problems and disagreements must be resolved in the parliament,” said Mir Nasir Hossain, former FBCCI president said.

He further said: “We also want a guarantee from the next government to exercise our constitutional right of doing business.” adding the next opposition party who ever they may be must respect the peoples verdict on the election. Abdul Awal Mintoo, a former FBCCI president, said the businesses want ‘real democracy’ after the next elections, adding “an effective relationship among government agencies, civil societies and business community will be needed to develop the economy.”

Mintoo said politics and economics are complementary to each other adding: “we are to ensure paths to work market forces independently.” Annisul Huq, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) joined the conference as chief guest while former chiefs of the apex chamber body Mir Nasir Hossain and Abdul Awal Mintoo attended as special guests.

The programme was held at Chittagong chapter of the Institution of Engineers Bangladesh. CCCI president Saifuzzaman Chowdhury Javed presided over the meeting where over 1000 businessmen and leaders from greater Chittagong and Sylhet were present. The FBCCI will also hold two more such conference – in Dhaka and Rajshahi — and the outcome will be given to the next government to take actions and formulate policies. The business leaders also said the next government should announce Sunday as public holiday in lieu of existing Friday and Saturday.

“We remain disconnected with the rest of the world by around three and a half days due to the existing week-end holiday system,” Annisul said. The business leaders said they want a guarantee as well on the burning issues regarding energy and power as their future investment largely depends on the issues. “The government to be elected shortly after general elections must have to decide on the coal, gas and power as thousands of factories remained inoperative simply because of the gas and power shortage in Chittagong and other parts of the country,” said Mir Nasir.

Annisul Huq said Bangladesh has huge coal reserves covering around 71 square kilometer and that could be utilised for generating power for the next 80 years. “We failed to explore for coal and utilise the natural resource for long term benefit, now we want the next elected government to take necessary action to explore for coal and help generate power,” Annisul added. Business leaders however favoured for keeping functional the country’s premier port Chittagong as it is now operating to ensure timely inbound and outgoing cargoes.

“We want see the port remaining functional in the coming days under political government,” Annisul said. FBCCI chief also said the political leaders must take advantage new opportunity created after 1/11 on developing qualitative leaderships. “Opportunities does not come frequently, so political leaders should avail the chance for developing qualitative leaderships,” Annisul said.


Date: 04 November 2008, Bangladesh




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