Coal News of Phulbari – Bangladesh

News on coal resources & coal basins of Bangladesh

Archive for May, 2009

Major decisions on coal likely within this year

Posted by phulbarinews on May 21, 2009

Govt working on approval of coal policy, open-pit mining at Barapukuria, resettlement of affected people

Within this year, the government will take several major and thorny decisions on developing the coal sector, including approval of the coal policy, an open-pit mine in Barapukuria, resettlement of people affected by the existing mine and development of a mine city.

The government is already working on the mine city in Barapukuria by identifying areas to be acquired. This mine city will initially aim at providing livelihood and living facilities to 10,000 families and ultimately give room to one lakh families, says Towfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, adviser to the prime minister on energy.

Towfiq-e-Elahi pointed out that the government has signed a draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) with villagers who are affected by land subsidence around the Barapukuria coalmine area. “Their resettlement will be implemented in phases,” he noted.

“Our bigger concern is to ensure these affected people their livelihood. We aim at giving jobs to the second generation of these affected people,” he added.

A government committee has already recommended quick framing of a human resettlement action plan for the villagers affected by the Barapukuria coalmine in line with the one for the Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge project. Such a plan should be chalked out within a few months.

Till this plan of “international standard” is approved for action, the people should be immediately given a standard compensation package and alternative shelter, said a source quoting the committee’s report submitted to the energy ministry late last month.

Deep grievances are brewing among several villages around the mine for the last two years. The mining project was implemented without recognising that the mine would cause land subsidence leading to loss of agricultural land, water supply and cause environmental damage.

For now, the government is addressing the water issue in the area by installing 600 deep tube wells (Tara Tubewells). The subsoil water level in around 15 villages in Barapukuria rapidly dropped as the mine is pumping out huge quantity of water for coal production. Towfiq said the work order for these pumps would be issued this month.

Identifying coal as one of the vital natural resources that needs to be developed for future energy security of the country, Towfiq said in the past the government had undertaken mining project without informing the people its consequences on the environment and agricultural land. The government had not even kept any allocation to address the environmental issues.

“But in future all such projects should be done in a transparent manner by informing and involving the people,” he said. The draft coal policy that the government did not approve in the last four years will soon see the light of day. “We are working on it. We hope to approve it within a few months. The main focus would be to ensure the best usage of coal,” Towfiq said.

He noted the future of power would be dependent on coal as well as nuclear technology. “Seventy-five percent of power in France comes from nuclear power stations and one third of power in the USA also comes from nuclear power stations,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, the eight-member committee headed by a joint secretary of the energy ministry recommended that a mining city be developed as per the Resettlement Action Plan. This city would provide amenities, shelter and livelihood as an alternative to the affected people.

As part of this action plan, the government should appoint a third party organisation–possibly a non-government organisation–to conduct a baseline survey in the affected area to assess the size of the population, their assets, cropland and livestock, schools and other educational institutions etc. If there is a slum in the area, it should also be assessed.

Till the plan is implemented, the villagers living in vulnerable structures should be relocated to the East Camp of the Barapukuria mine. The East Camp is a structure built during the project construction period, said the committee that was formed in January to look into the land subsidence of Barapukuria.

All future mine projects should be implemented after conducting a feasibility study, undertaking a resettlement plan and by acquiring the land necessary for the projects, it said.

The committee pointed out that land outside the mine area, which has subsided and will subside in future, should be acquired by paying premium to the owners. The base line survey should identify the lands that could be acquired by paying the premium.

It recommended jobs for the locals as per their merit in the Barapukuria coalmine. A social awareness committee should be formed with these people to disseminate information about the long-term impact of the mine.

The 2,500-acre underground mine area includes 650 acres of agricultural land on the surface. The mine is directly affecting the lives of about 2,500 people in seven to eight villages. “Rehabilitation of these people should not be very costly for the government,” said a source.

Other members of the committee include director general of the Hydrocarbon Cell of the ministry, Dhaka University geology department Professor Badrul Imam, chiefs of the Bureau of Mineral Development, Barapukuria Coal Mine Company, Titas Gas Transmission and Distribution Company and Geological Survey of Bangladesh.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=89132

Date: 21 May 2009, Bangladesh

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JS panel stresses coal extraction to reduce dependence on gas

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

Staff Correspondent

A parliamentary panel on Monday asked the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources to come up with a report on a ‘suitable’ mining method for coal extraction in Bangladesh. It also asked the government to expedite the process for facilitating use of coal for power generation as the country has been suffering electricity shortage, said the chairman of the committee on estimate, H N Ashequr Rahman, after a meeting of the watchdog body at the Jatiya Sangsad.
   

The suggestions came at a time when the experts were divided over methods of coal mining as many experts said that the open pit mining would bring environmental disaster and relocation of tens of thousands of people from their homesteads despite high rate of extraction. The other group said the extraction of coal by underground method was minimum and there would be huge subsidence of land if the method was followed.
   

Protest against proposed open pit method in Phulbari coal mine caused riots in northern Dinajpur district in 2006 killing at least three persons. The Awami League, now in the government, had extended supports to the locals who opposed the open-pit mining and stood against the move to allow the UK-based Asia Energy to extract coal using the method. The then Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led alliance government suspended the move to go for extraction of coal in Phulbari mine with a proven reserve of 576 million tonnes.
   

Three successive governments have failed so far to formulate a coal policy for the development of the sector over the debate on which method Bangladesh should follow. A draft coal policy is now shelved by the ministry of energy. Ashequr said that the power-hungry country needed more coal now to produce electricity and reduce the pressure on gas, the reserve of which was getting depleted very fast in Bangladesh. The committee suggested extraction of coal from the existing mines to meet the future energy demands.
   

‘We have asked the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources to go for immediate extraction of coal,’ the chairman told reporters after the meeting. He added that Bangladesh should go for ‘cost-effective’ mining. Bangladesh has estimated 3 billion tonnes of coal reserve in five mines – Barapukuria, Phulbari, Khalaspir, Dhighipara and Jamalganj. Of the existing reserve, 1 billion tonnes coal of Jamalganj are not recoverable with the existing technology.

Source: http://www.newagebd.com/2009/may/19/nat.html

Date: 19 May 2009, Bangladesh

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Gas Exploration-JS body slams Petrobangla for ‘inefficiency’

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

Rashidul Hasan

A parliamentary body yesterday strongly criticised officials of Petrobangla for not working “efficiently” in producing gas at different gas fields. The parliamentary standing committee on estimate at a meeting asked Petrobangla to work in a “warlike situation” and increase volume of gas production.

The committee also asked officials of the power and energy ministry to submit in two weeks a report on how to overcome energy crisis. Petrobangla on the other hand sought relaxation of present rules and regulations in exploring gas in a bid to materialise its specialised fast-track project under which it projected to produce as much as 118 to 128 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).

Petrobangla made the appeal to the government considering urgency of additional gas exploration and digging of gas fields to ensure energy safety by meeting ongoing demand. The Bangladesh oil, gas and mineral corporation informed this yesterday at the meeting of the estimate committee held at the parliament building.

Talking to The Daily Star, HN Ashequr Rahman, chairman of the committee, gave a comparison of gas production between Petrobangla and foreign companies. He said Petrobangla produces 885.17 mmcfd against the reserve of 5.38 trillion cubic feet (TCF) in different gas fields, while foreign companies produce 970 mmcfd against the reserve of 1.5 TCF.

“So we asked Petrobangla to produce gas at its maximum ability,” Rahman told The Daily Star after the meeting. If foreign companies can produce more gas in spite of having less reserve, why Petrobangla cannot produce more, he asked. “The committee has asked Petrobangla to work in a short decision and work in a warlike situation,” he added.

“We are in a serious gas and power crisis and if we cannot meet demands of the people, our pledges for bringing changes and electricity for all will not be materialised,” the committee chief commented. “Investment and studies — nothing will happen in the country unless power is available,” he observed.

Petrobangla officials told the meeting they don’t produce much gas considering profit, say meeting sources. The committee members rejected this view saying nothing is superior to the interest of the country and production of more gas is at present very important considering power crisis, the sources add.

The committee also asked the officials concerned to evaluate which method will be profitable for coalmining in Bangladesh and work accordingly. The committee also instructed the officials to go for building strong opinion among the people in favour of open mine method if it is found profitable. “You cannot sit idle on your resources,” commented Rahman.

Asked to comment on Petrobangla’s appeal for relaxation of present rules and regulations in exploring gas, Rahman said, “We have assured them of all kinds of cooperation.” Petrobangla requested the government to take necessary steps so that the High Court withdraws the bar on onshore bidding.

It also appealed to the government for not giving gas connection to any sector until production reaches 2,200 mmcfd.

Source: http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=88859

Date: 19 May 2009, Bangladesh

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House panel suggests coal extraction from mines

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

bdnews24.com, DHAKA

A parliamentary watchdog, Estimate Committee, has suggested immediate extraction of coal from the five mines including the much-talked about Phulbari coal field. But the committee, which makes estimates on public affairs, made no recommendations on the mining methods-open-pit or underground.

“The committee has recommended that coal from our five mines should immediately be extracted for producing energy,” H N Ashequr Rahman, the chairman, told the agency after Monday’s meeting at parliament building. He said the committee suggested the energy ministry find ways to extract coals at “minimum cost”, but made no mention of the environmental aspects of coal extraction.

The chairman said energy-hungry Bangladesh needed coal immediately for power generation, a precondition for development. “We have asked the ministry to submit a report on which method would be viable to extract coal from the fields,” said the chairman. Bangladesh has five coal mines-Barapukuria, Phulbari, Khalashpir, Dighipara and Jamalganj.

The government is in dilemma over coal extraction from Phulbari filed in Dinajpur. The Phulbari people resisted a move of the UK-based Asia Energy to collect coal through open-pit mining on the grounds that it would make them homeless and destroy environment. In Aug 2006, three people were killed as law enforcers fired on the protesters who demanded the government scrap its deal with Asia Energy.

In the face of strong protest, the government announced closure of Asia Energy’s activities in Phulbari. Some groups supported mainly by the left parties have been waging movements to stop extraction of coal by open-cut method by foreign companies. The then main opposition and now ruling party Awami League extended support to the protesters.

Source: http://www.theindependent-bd.com/details.php?nid=126405

Date: 19 May 2009, Bangladesh

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City roundtable urges: Evolve coal policy through consensus

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

Staff Reporter

Speakers yesterday suggested the government to finalise the coal policy immediate through the political consensus for setting up of coal-based power plants to address the power crisis. “The government should go for coal-fired power plant even if based on imported coal,” they said at a

roundtable on “Energy Source for Power Generation” at the CIRDAP Auditorium in the city. The Energy and Power magazine organised the roundtable, which was moderated by its editor Mollah Amzad.

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power and Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry Maj Gen (retd) Shubid Ali Bhuiyan said that the government should go for coal-based power plant through a political understanding for finalising coal policy. “If necessary the government should import coal for this purpose,” he added.

Bhuiyan said that the electricity crisis is mounting in the country as the BNP led four party alliance did not take decision about coal and gas issues during its regime. Criticising BNP led government, he said, “Corruption and misappropriation of fund in power sector occured during the period.”

He informed that the parliamentary standing committee has submitted its recommendation to the Finance Ministry to make highest allocation in the power and energy sector in the next budget.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Shamsul Haque Tuku called upon the Oil, Gas and Bandar Protection Committee to refrain from their movement in the interest of the country. Castigating the committee for observing a human chain protest programme, he said though the government is yet to go for any offshore gas block bidding, but yet it is observing the protest programme.

The sate minister urged the committee not to obstruct the government’s activities with the support of outsiders. Former State Minister for Power and Energy Iqbal Hasan Mahmood Tuku said that the present electricity crisis was created 20 years ago when the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) withdrew their financial support in the name of promotion of the power sector through the private entrepreneurs.

“The government must come out from the World Bank prescriptions to ensure sustainable development in the power sector,” he said. He also observed that the lengthy bureaucratic process was the main hindrance to improve the power sector.

He supported the government’s recent initiatives for setting up of a 1000 MW nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna. Former State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain said the BNP-led government had made a move to go for offshore gas block bidding.

“We could not get success because of non-cooperation of India and Myanmar at that time,” he claimed. “We may have many options for power generation, but coal should be the best option in the present perspective as we are not in a position to go for offshore exploration of gas immediately,” Dr Ijaz Hossain of BUET told at his keynote paper.

He said that the country with its 2.0 billion tons of coal reserve can generate 10,000 MW electricity for next 50 years. About the use of renewable energy option, he said, the solar can be “kilowatt-power solution,” but the country needs “megawatt-power solution.”  He suggested that the gas and electricity utilities must be reformed in a manner similar to what was done for the state owned banks.

Former scientist of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Yunus Akhand said that the nuclear power plant should be set up in the country to meet the future electricity demand as it provides electricity at cheapest cost.

Former State Minister for Power and Energy Prof Rafiqul Islam, Ahsanullah University Vice Chancellor Dr Anwar Hossain, Summit Group chairman Mohammad Aziz Khan, former Petrobangla director Mainul Ahsan, Cairn Energy ltd director ABM Siraj Uddowlah, Imran Ahmed Chowdhury and Rafiqul Islam Khan also addressed at the roundtable.

Source: http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/05/18/news0519.htm

Date: 18 May 2009, Bangladesh

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Coal only option to mitigate crippling power crisis: Tuku

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

FE Report

The nation has no option but to explore coal to generate electricity for urgently resolving the country’s crippling power crisis, state minister for energy Shamsul Haque Tuku said Sunday.

“Where is the problem to use our natural resource for the wellbeing of the nation?” Tuku asked, slamming the group who is opposing extraction of coal through open pit system from the Phulbari coalfield.

“They should point out which of our agreements have gone against the nation. None should obstruct extraction of coals. These kinds of actions are not patriotic. We must use coal to mitigate the power crisis,” he said.

The minister was pointing his fingers at the Oil, Gas, Coal and Port Protection Committee which has over the past five years opposed any government move for open pit system which it says would displace hundreds of thousands of poor villagers.

The minister said the government would try all possible means to generate additional power including stepping up gas exploration and using renewable energy sources such as solar panels. The State Minister was addressing a roundtable on “Energy Source for Power Generation” jointly organised by Power and Energy fortnightly and German development agency GTZ.

Since coming to the power, the government has increased power generation to 4,147 megawatt (mw) from 3200mw by renovating and improving management of power plants, Tuku said. Besides, work on generating 360mw electricity from the Haripur power plant is also underway, he added. The state minister said more valuable natural resources are lying underground in Bangladesh than the resources visible above earth. “But above all we have to make maximum use of our resources to tackle the growing power and energy crisis. It is a must to ensure a better future for everyone,” he said.

Parliamentary standing committee chairman on power, energy and mineral resources Shubid Ali Bhuiyan, ex-state ministers Rafiqul Islam, Iqbal Hasan Mahmood and AKM Mosharraf Hossain, former Director of Petrobangla Muinul Ahsan and Director of Cairn Energy ABA Siraj Uddowlah also spoke at the roundtable.

Chairman of Chemical Engineering Department of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) Dr Ijaz Hossain presented the key note paper suggesting possible energy sources to help generate maximum electricity in the next three to four years.

The BUET professor said 1000 megawatt (MW) electricity can be added to the national grid in the shortest possible time by 2010-11 utilizing alternative sources of energy. He said 200mw can be generated each from captive electricity and dual fuel of gas and diesel, 100mw each from naphtha condensate and furnace oil and 50m each from bagasse, poultry litter, poultry manure, rice husk, jute waste, landfill gas, solar photovoltaic panels, wind and hydro.

The keynote presenter however emphasised reforming energy pricing, enhancing conservation, energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy sources as well as importing coal for meeting immediate requirement for energy.

Source: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2009/05/18/66879.html

Date: 18 May 2009, Bangladesh

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Speakers suggest for coal-based power plant to resolve crisis-Shun opposition to coal, gas extraction: Minister

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

UNB, Dhaka

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday suggested the government to immediately go for coal-based power plant, even if based on imported coal, to resolve the nagging power crisis. “We may have many options for power generation, but coal should be the best option in the present perspective as we are not in a position to go for offshore exploration of gas immediately,” Dr Ijaz Hossain told the function.

Dr Hossain, a professor of Chemical Engineering of BUET, who presented the keynote paper at the roundtable, claimed that the country with its 2.0 billion tonnes of coal reserve can generate 10,000 MW electricity for next 50 years. About the use of renewable energy option, he said, the solar can be “kilowatt-power solution,” but the country needs “megawatt-power solution.”

State Minister for Power and Energy Shamsul Haque Tuku, who addressed the roundtable as chief guest, urged the left political parties-backed Gas Protection Committee to shun their movement against open-pit coal extraction. Criticising the committee for observing a human chain protest programme, he said the government is yet to go for any offshore gas block bidding, but they are observing the protest programme.

“Don’t oppose the government’s programme with the mere hint of any outside force. You should not resist the government’s programme if you really want the country’s power crisis to go,” the state minister told the committee. Energy and Power magazine organised the seminar on “Energy Source for Power Generation” at the Cirdap Auditorium in the city.

Former State Minister for Power Iqbal Hasan Mahmood Tuku said that the present power crisis is a longstanding issue and it was created 20 years back when the donor agencies including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) withdrew their financial support. He said the lengthy bureaucratic process was the main bottleneck in his endeavour to improve the power sector situation when he discharged his duty as state-minister.

He supported the Awami League government’s move for setting up a 1000 MW nuclear power plant. Former State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain said the BNP-led government had made a move to go for offshore gas block bidding. “But that move was not successful because of non-cooperation from neighbouring India and Myanmar,” he added.

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power and Energy Ministry Maj Gen (retd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan said that his committee has submitted a recommendation to the Finance Ministry to make highest allocation for the power and energy sector in the coming budget. Former scientist of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Yunus Akhand favoured the nuclear power plant to be set up in the country to meet the future power demand as it provides electricity at cheapest cost. Summit Group chairman Miohammad Aziz Khan and former Petrobangla director Mainul Ahsan also spoke at the function.  

Source: http://www.theindependent-bd.com/details.php?nid=126171

Date: 18 May 2009, Bangladesh

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Tax-free income ceiling won’t be raised-Says finance minister

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

Star Business Report

Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday said the government would not raise the ceiling of tax-free income from the present Tk 165,000 in the next budget. He also said that the government would retain the pre-shipment inspection (PSI) system, as the customs department is not ready yet to take over the job despite widespread demand for scrapping such inspection services.

2009-05-18__bus12

“Considering the market prices and inflationary pressure I see no reason to up the ceiling further,” Muhith told a pre-budget discussion organised by the Economic Reporters Forum (ERF) at the National Press Club. Predecessor AB Mirza Azizul Islam, who was present at the discussion, echoed Muhith’s view.

“The tax-free ceiling should not be raised even in next two years,” said the former finance and planning adviser. However, business bodies, including FBCCI, and people from different quarters have long been urging the government to increase the ceiling of tax-free income to Tk 200,000 since day-to-day expenses of the middle class have increased significantly following inflation and spiralling prices of essentials.

Muhith also focused on issues like recession, energy crisis, public expenditure, revenue collection and government intervention in commodity market. “PSI system will continue further,” said the minister. According to an agreement with the government, PSI system would be withdrawn by the year-end.

Different business chambers on many occasions have raised their voice against such PSI firms. In Asia, the mandatory PSI system exists only in Bangladesh and Cambodia, with Pakistan discarding the arrangement in late nineties after a brief stint. The voluntary PSI system was introduced in Bangladesh in 1992, and it was made mandatory 8 years later in a bid to help generate revenue by minimising widespread corruption in customs.

The finance minister said although Bangladesh still remains immune from the recession fallout, the next six months would be crucial. “We have to observe the situation seriously in the next six months,” said Muhith.

He however said the situation would start easing at the end of 2010 and get improved fully in 2011. The finance minister said: “Government will intervene in the market through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.”

He admitted that a grim situation prevails in the country. “From now on all power stations will be duel fuel-based,” he said, adding that a coal policy would be formulated.

Muhith said the government is trying hard to improve the energy situation. The minister expressed his dissatisfaction over the poor tax base. “Only seven lakh people among 14.5 crore pay taxes. It is a great shame,” he remarked. He reiterated the government stance of not allowing any new tax holiday. The minister also said sick industries would not be given any facilities in the next budget.

Mirza Aziz projected next year’s GDP growth at 5.5 percent, lower than this year’s 5.8 percent, mainly because of the recession. The former finance adviser opposed the demand for corporate tax reduction and tax holiday. He also viewed there should not be any zero duty facility for goods, except food items. He also opposed further duty reduction for capital machinery and raw materials.

President of International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh chapter Mahbubur Rahman and Chairman of Association of Bankers Bangladesh Mahmood Sattar also spoke. ERF President Nazmul Ahsan chaired the discussion.

Source:http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=88683

Date: 18 May 2009, Bangladesh

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Govt urged to install power plants fuelled by imported coal

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

Staff Correspondent

Some energy experts, academics, politicians and business people on Sunday suggested that the government should take immediate steps to install power plants fuelled by imported coal as it would take time to arrive at a political consensus on the question of extraction of coal from the country’s own mines.

They also recommended for reaching a consensus on developing the country’s coal fields as soon as possible to meet the growing demand for energy demand and tackle severe electricity crisis.

‘We should go for imported coal-based power plants as we have not been able to take any decision on coal extraction from our own coal mines because of differences in opinion over mining method,’ vice chancellor of Ahasanullah University of Science and Technology, M Anwar Hossain, said at a roundtable on ‘Energy Source for Power Generation’ at CIRDAP auditorium.

He suggested for developing necessary infrastructures for import of coal and install 500-1000MW coal-fired power plants. ‘The government should arrange funds from its own source to install such plants on a priority basis,’ he said.

The chairman of parliamentary standing committee on power and energy ministry, Subid Ali Bhuiyan, said that coal could be imported from neighbouring countries for running power plants to save the power sector which is facing a ‘massive crisis’.

‘We have to go for coal-based plants as soon as possible. A political solution is needed for extraction of coal from our own coal mines. But meanwhile we can import coal to run our power plants,’ he said. Subid Ali also suggested the government to give the highest allocation for the power sector in the coming budget.

He informed the meeting that around 1.5 crore energy saving CFL bulbs would soon be distributed among consumers free of cost. Chairman of Summit Group, a leading private sector players in power business, Md Aziz Khan, recommended that the government should allow installation of coal-based independent power plants as well small-scale captive power generation unit run by imported furnace oil.

Professor Ijaz Hossain of BUET, who presented the key-note paper at the roundtable, also suggested for import of coal from India, Indonesia or Australia. State minister for power Shamsul Haque Tuku and former state-minister for energy during the BNP-led government AKM Mosharraf Hossain blamed the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports for not allowing ‘extraction of coal’ in the country.

Former Petrobangla director Muinul Ahsan recommended that the government should go for open-pit mining at Barapukuria coal field. He also favoured the agreement with Asia Energy for developing the Phulbari coal field saying that it would not be ‘easy’ to scrap the deal.

Geologist Rafidul Islam Khan, however, said that no one in Bangladesh was against the extraction of coal but there were differences of opinion over the mining method. ‘We need such method which is profitable and environment friendly. Those who are calling for giving the coal fields as early as possible [to foreign companies] are not thinking about the benefit of the country rather they are thinking about their own benefit by grabbing consultancy,’ he said.

Former state minister for power during the previous Awami League government, Rafiqul Islam, and former state minister for power during the BNP-led government, Iqbal Hasan Mahmood, also spoke at the roundtable. Energy and Power, a fortnightly magazine and German technical cooperation agency GTZ jointly organised the roundtable.

Source: http://www.newagebd.com/2009/may/18/nat.html

Date: 18 May 2009, Bangladesh

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Go for coal-based power plant to resolve crisis-Speakers urge govt

Posted by phulbarinews on May 20, 2009

Speakers at a roundtable yesterday suggested the government immediately go for coal-based power plant, even if it runs on imported coal, to resolve the nagging power crisis.

Energy and Power magazine organised the roundtable on ‘Energy Source for Power Generation’ at the Cirdap Auditorium in the city.

“We may have many options for power generation, but coal should be the best option in the present perspective as we are not in a position to go for offshore exploration of gas immediately,” Dr Ijaz Hossain told the roundtable.

Dr Hossain, a professor of chemical engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), presented the keynote paper at the roundtable. He claimed that the country with its 2.0 billion tons of coal reserve can generate 10,000MW electricity for the next 50 years.

About the use of renewable energy option, he said it can be “kilowatt-power solution” but the country needs “megawatt-power solution”. State Minister for Power and Energy Shamsul Haque Tuku, who addressed the roundtable as the chief guest, urged the left political parties-backed Gas Protection Committee to shun their movement against open-pit coal extraction.

Criticising the committee for forming a human chain, he said the government is yet to go for any offshore gas block bidding, but they are staging demonstrations. “Don’t oppose the government’s programme with a mere hint from any outside force. You should not resist the government’s programme if you really want the country’s power crisis to go,” the state minister told the committee.

Former state minister for power Iqbal Hasan Mahmood Tuku said that the present power crisis is a longstanding issue and it was created 20 years back when the donor agencies, including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), withdrew their financial support.

He said the lengthy bureaucratic process was the main bottleneck in his endeavour to improve the power sector situation when he discharged his duty as the state minister. He supported the Awami League government’s move for setting up a 1000MW nuclear power plant.

Former state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain said the BNP-led government had made a move to go for offshore gas block bidding. “But that move was not successful because of non-cooperation from neighbouring India and Myanmar,” he added.

Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Power and Energy Ministry Maj Gen (retd) Subid Ali Bhuiyan said that his committee has submitted a recommendation to the finance ministry to make the highest allocation for the power and energy sector in the coming budget.

Former scientist of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Yunus Akhand favoured the nuclear power plant to be set up in the country to meet the future power demand as it provides electricity at the cheapest price. Summit Group Chairman Mohammad Aziz Khan and former director of Petrobangla Mainul Ahsan also spoke at the roundtable.

Date: 18 May 2009, Bangladesh

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