Public Meeting in London with Professor Anu Muhammad

Corporate Grabbing and Plundering of Resources in Bangladesh: Who Runs the Country  – Government or the Greedy Monsters

On the 28th of September 2014, Professor Anu Muhammad, the member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Port-Power and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh, has delivered a keynote speech in a Public Meeting about ‘Corporate Grabbing and Plundering of  Common Property in Bangladesh, in London.

In a packed meeting at the Montefiore Centre in East London community representatives and transnational activists have heard him and condemned the plundering of Bangladesh by companies such as the UK based Global Coal Management Resources (GCM), and American multinational energy corporations, namely ConcoPhillips, Chevron, and Occidental. Bangladeshi community organisers and transnational environmental campaigners have made it explicit once again that Bangladesh will not tolerate any corporate plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh.

With thanks to Diamond Studios, a recording of Professor Anu Muhammad’s presentation is available here:

 

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Surround GCM! Surround the Dirty Coal Miners! Flyer for Demo 2014

Surround GCM! Surround the Dirty Coal Miners!

Action to Save Lives and to Halt the Devastating Phulbari Coal Project

Phulbari 2014

Tuesday, 9 December 2014 at 10:30am-12pm

Venue: 4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ

An AIM-listed London-based multinational company, GCM Resources Plc, is desperately moving to implement an immense open pit coal mine in northwest Bangladesh, forcibly displacing an estimated 130, 000 people and destroying the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people. If the project is implemented, it will destroy over 14,660 acres of fertile agricultural land that produce three food crops annually, threatening to increase hunger in a country in which nearly half of all people currently live below the nutrition poverty line.

Phulbari Demo Flyer 2014

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Locals have protested the project for seven years by forming powerful human chains and rallies. On 26 August 2006, three people were killed and over 200 injured when paramilitary troops fired on a massive protest of some 80,000 demonstrators in Phulbari. But people in Phulbari are determined to resist this project and to stop GCM Resources plc. The potential for violence has remained high in this project ever since August 2006. Last year the situation sparked by the CEO’s planned visit to Phulbari. People in Phulbari have given verdict against this project. We have served two eviction notices to the company. On 28 February, 2012, seven Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations issued a joint UN press release, calling for an immediate halt to the project on the grounds that it threatens the fundamental human rights of hundreds of thousands of people, including entire villages of indigenous people, and poses “an immediate threat to safety and standards of living.” Still GCM is aggressively moving on to implement this open pit coal mine ignoring the human rights and environmental degradation the project would leave.

We want to teach GCM to keep its hands off Bangladesh. We will surround the corrupted miners this December at their AGM. Will you join us in surrounding the dirty coal miners? Will you tell GCM to leave this project?

For further information contact akhtersk@gmail.com or phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com. Visit https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.wordpress.com/, http://protectbdresources.org.uk,www.ncbd.org

Download PDF of Flyer.
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The UK branch of the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas Mineral Resources and Port-Power in Bangladesh.

UK urges GCM Resources to assess human rights impact of Bangladesh coal mine

Today, Thursday, 20th Nov 2014, the UK government has urged British company GCM Resources to assess how its planned coal mine in Bangladesh would affect the human rights of local people, and has condemned the company for breaching international guidelines on ethical corporate behaviour. Its findings, released today, state that the project “has aroused considerable opposition in Bangladesh, leading to violent protests, and an even more violent response by the authorities there.”

The UK government statement follows an investigation into GCM’s activities in the Phulbari region of north-west Bangladesh, where it wants to open a massive open-pit coal mine. The investigation concluded that the company had breached the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises by failing to “foster confidence and mutual trust” with the people who would be affected by the mine.

The investigation failed to consider how the mine would affect the people of Phulbari if it were built, and its conclusions were limited to GCM’s record in the planning phase of the project to date. An internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD guidelines do apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead. However, the final report failed to address the concrens of the internal review and did not correct the decision to exclude all potential impacts of the project from the investigation.

The investigation followed a complaint submitted by the World Development Movement and International Accountability Project.

Christine Haigh, campaigner at the World Development Movement, said:
“The UK government’s investigation is right in pointing to the company’s failures to date. But by omitting to consider the inevitable effects this mine would have on the region’s population, the investigation does little to ensure that their rights are protected. If it goes ahead, the Phulbari coal mine will be a human rights disaster. Local people have repeatedly made it clear that they don’t want it and GCM should expect continued resistance if it pushes ahead against their wishes.”

 
Kate Hoshour from International Accountability Project said:
“There are grave concerns about the high risk of further violence in Phulbari if GCM persists in its efforts to force this project forward despite massive local opposition. The UK government should be taking all possible action to avert further harm, rather than restricting its assessment to harm that has already been inflicted. The government should also recognize and condemn the ongoing violation of the rights to self-determination and to free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples who have been fighting to halt this project since 2006.”

Rumana Hashem, co-ordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group and an eye witness to the protests against the project where three people were killed in 2006, said:
“It is good that the UK NCP has recognised the considerable opposition to this project in Bangladesh. But the investigators simply failed to highlight the concerns for human rights violations and the severity of the issues. I have seen how local people died protesting about how the project would rob them of their homes and land, and how the locals have resisted the project so far. I am appalled that after receiving several first-hand accounts from Phulbari, the UK government has reduced its recommendations to this narrow framework.”

Locals cried out to save their homes, lands and lives in Phulbari following the shooting by GCM-provoked shooting by Bangladesh paramilitary. Photo: 27 August 2006

Locals cried out to save their homes, lands and lives in Phulbari following the shooting by GCM-provoked Bangladesh paramilitary. Photo: 27 August 2006

She added: “This report is contradictory. The internal review of the investigation affirmed that the OECD guidelines apply to human rights abuses that would occur if the project went ahead but the final report failed to advise their company to stay away from this devastating project. Despite the failure of the UK government to hold this UK-based company to account, it is clear that the people of Phulbari will resist GCM’s project going ahead.”

GCM’s planned Phulbari coal mine has provoked repeated protests by local people. Three people were killed and many more injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the project in 2006. Protests in 2013 forced the company’s then CEO Gary Lye to abandon a visit to the area.

The mine would force up to 220,000 people from their land, destroying their homes and livelihoods, and would threaten the Sundarbans – one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The UK government states that GCM must take into account the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which stipulates that no developments can take place on indigenous peoples’ land without their ‘free, prior and informed consent’. Bangladesh’s National Indigenous Union says the mine would displace or impoverish 50,000 indigenous people from 23 villages.

Seven UN human rights experts have called for an immediate halt to the project, citing threats to fundamental human rights, including the rights to water, food, adequate housing, freedom from extreme poverty and the rights of indigenous peoples.
The original complaint submitted by International Accountability Porject and the World Development Movement

UK NCP final statement: complaint from IAP and WDM against GCM Resources Plc in Bangladesh

Find the press release by World Development Movement here

The Daily Star Report here

The Dhaka Tribune’s bias report here

 

Feasibility study on Barapukuria open-pit mining sent back

The Independent news on Barapukuria reproduced below  by Raaj Manik

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Author / Source: SHAHNAJ BEGUM

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The authorities of the Barapukuria Coal Mine Company (BCMC) have rejected the feasibility study report of the Institute of Water Modelling (IWM) on open-pit mining at Barapukuria North, as it did not match the study’s “terms of reference (TOR)”. “The study did not reflect the impact of open-pit mining on the groundwater level as a result of dewatering, irrigation and supply of drinking and industrial water. We need a further detailed report,” a senior IWM official told The Independent on Monday.
With the aim of opening up the northern part of the Barapukuria coalfield on a “small scale”, the energy ministry had launched the initiative 10 years ago. To endorse the plan, it formed different committees and completed two studies, but failed to reach any conclusion. In its third attempt, it engaged the IWM to complete water modelling to preclude any controversy over the method of coal extraction.
“This study is not enough to assess the impact of open-pit mining as it is a highly technical issue. Once again, we want to complete a geo-technical feasibility study before taking any decision on open-pit mining in this area,” Petrobangla’s former chairman Md. Mosharrof Hossain, who is the coordinator of the government monitoring committee that guided the IWM’s survey, told The Independent.
“We can go in for open-pit mining in the northern part of the Barapukuria coalfield, subject to the technical feasibility study on mining issues and the economic viability of water pumping with respect to biodiversity and ecological
stress on food production and their impact on the gross domestic product (GDP). Otherwise, how can we assess the profit and loss of a project? The study has failed to discuss these aspects,” he added.
According to Petrobangla, it was mentioned in the TOR that the study, covering an area of 2.81 sq. km, would assess the impact on the groundwater level as a result of dewatering, irrigation and supply of drinking and industrial water. It would find out possible remedial measures for underground sustainability through different opinion studies and recommend developing mine water management systems. “But the report did not touch on the irrigation and crop issues of the affected areas, which have a great impact on mine design,” an official said.
Though the IWM report said an area of some 560 sq. km of Barapukuria would be impacted if the government decides to open Barapukuria North for open-pit mining and the water table of the areas would go down from seven metres to more than 30 metres at different points, but to make it operational, it would require de-watering from 400 million cubic metres (mmc) to 232 mmc every year.
“The IWM report gave us some sort of relief, as we found the water flow to be almost half of what we had assumed. But a geo-technical issue is a must. After that, we will start the other related task,” Mosharrof Hossain said.
Bangladesh has five coalfields with around 2.55 billion tonnes of reserves, but has been unable to extract the mineral since a national coal policy has not been finalised yet. The Barapukuria coalfield has reserves of around 389 million tonnes, but only 10 to 12 per cent of this can be extracted with the underground method.
The report said over 90 per cent of the total reserves can be extracted through open-pit mining. Underground mining can produce less than 25 per cent. The northern part has estimated reserves of 135 million tonnes of coal.
“The surface of the Barapukuria
coal seam has started at the level of 118 metres. It gradually grows in depth up to 503 metres,” geologist Dr Mushfiqur Rahman told the Independent.
The report of the experts’ committee said the coal seam deposited 200 metres under the surface would be extracted through the open-pit method. The underground mining method would be chosen for those deposits when that depth is more than 200 metres.

Original version of the report can be accessed here

PDF version can be downloaded here feasibility-study-on-barapukuria-open-pit-mining-sent-back 19 Nov 2014