Phulbari Solidarity Group Stood with Activists at National Climate March in London

Rumana Hashem Declared Solidarity with Thousands Demanding ‘its Time to Act’

By Raaj Manik

Saturday's National Climate March in London Photo credit: Jonathan Chater

Saturday’s National Climate March in London Photo credit: Jonathan Chater

After joining the protest on Global Divestment Day at City Hall, activists of Phulbari solidarity group joined the UK’s national climate march, expressing full solidarity to the agenda of the Campaign against Climate Change (CCC). On Saturday the 7th March, in the sea of vibrant, peaceful, powerful, and colourful protesters against climate change, the founder of Phulbari Solidarity Group (PSG) and a steering member of Bangladesh National Committee, Rumana Hashem, declared unconditional solidarity to the climate marchers and green planet seekers in London. The PSG and Bangladeshi activists in London marched with the protesters who said that  ‘It’s Time To Act‘.

By waving a Bangladeshi national flag at Westminster, Dr. Hashem expressed solidarity and gave an inspiring speech at a gathering of some 20,000 amazing marchers against climate change. Rumana started by saying: ‘Okay, I am here to express full solidarity with you. I would like to let you know that we, the activists from Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group, join our hands with you today to urge the UK government and world leaders to take a strong action to save our planet.”

She added, “Change is possible, stopping greenhouse emissions is possible. All we need is a combined action – from the south to the north for a green planet without delay.” In describing the way that people in Phulbari have resisted the immense open-pit coal mine which was proposed by an AIM-based British corporation, Global Coal Management Resources Plc, Rumana Hashem said:

Rumana Hashem of Bangladesh National Committee and Phulbari Solidarity Group waves Bangladeshi flag to cheer up the protesters. Photo credit: Paul  V. Dudman

Rumana Hashem of Bangladesh National Committee and Phulbari Solidarity Group waves Bangladeshi flag to cheer up the protesters. Photo credit: Paul V. Dudman

“In Bangladesh, we have ensured a halt to the project for over 8 years. It was made possible by coming together and taking to the streets against those blood-suckers and corporate grabbers who were determined to destroy our green fields by building a massive coal mine. Our people did not allow this to happen, they are fighting for their green fields and homes every day. Indeed, we could help build the climate movement by inspiring people from different countries to join us and join hands. We need to connect those grassroots struggles in the south with the north. We need to connect the northern activism with the southern movements.”

The vibrant-marching crowd who gathered outside British Parliament to hear from speakers, chanted slogan, in response to Rumana’s inspiring speech, “we will save our planet”. The march, called “Time to Act”, was designed to increase support for action ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. The peaceful yet powerful climate activists who marched from Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Westminster have demanded strong action of the UK government and world leaders at the Paris climate conference in December.

An activist representing the vibrant and colourful protest at Time To Act Climate March. Photo credit: Jonathan Chater

The slogans and organisations taking part in the national climate march were diverse. Protesters came from different cities and villages of the UK, and many had traveled with their kids and young children, demonstrating the severity of the cause. Despite the differences in the protesters’ backgrounds in terms of age, class, race, ethnicity, religion and nationality, many of them appeared clearly positive that preventing greenhouse emissions is possible. There was also a consensus that one way of bringing in change is to end capitalism without delay – because it stands in the way to prevent our earth from destroying.

Some sixteen inspiring speakers, from across world, have addressed the fascinating crowd. Many of them were women and one was just twelve year old girl. Powerful speakers include MP Caroline Lucas of Green Party, stand-by comedian Francesca Martinez, left wing Labour MP John McDonnell, the head of Greenpeace UK John Sauven, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, Bangladeshi environmentalist-feminist Rumana Hashem, and author Naomi Klein.

Most amazing speaker of the day was that of a 12 year old Laurel who spoke at the end of the rally and warned everybody that the earth is to be destroyed unless we act now. Also speakers from Caat, Avaaz, People’s Assembly, Axe Drax, Frack Free Lancashire, Stand Up to Racism, UK youth against climate change and the French climate coalition spoke powerfully at the march.

The protest was called by the Campaign against Climate Change (CCC) in conjunction with many other organisations. The powerful march ended by a beautiful choir let’s “unite voices, voice-unite, its time to act” . We were only four from Bangladesh National Committee and Phulbari Solidarity Group who attended the rally though it meant a lot to us. The power of people was felt throughout the sunny afternoon, and through our hearts. It was a real life-experience in London. The National Climate March in London reassured many that change is not only required, change is possible. Detailed report and updates with footage and photos are available in the below links. More photos and footage of the participation from Bangladesh and Phulbari Solidarity Group will be uploaded shortly.

Read further reports:

Climate Change: ‘Its Time To Act’ http://www.timetoact2015.org/

Time to Act National Climate March 2015 https://www.facebook.com/events/770415883032572/

Thousands take to the streets of London http://socialistworker.co.uk/art/40074/Thousands+take+to+the+streets+of+London+to+demand+action+on+climate+change

The Guardian report: ‘Climate change protesters march in London’ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/07/time-to-act-climate-change-protest-london

Save the Sundarbans Save Our Mangrove Forest: Join the Global Movement

By Rumana Hashem

The Sundarbans mangrove forest is struggling to survive a 350,000 liter oil spill. On 9 December 2014, the oil tanker carrying more than 350,000 liters (92,500 gallons) of bunker oil sank on a major river, called Shela, flowing through the Sundarbans after being hit by a cargo vessel. Its been nearly two months and the threats are yet to be over.

Rare animals and wild bird died by oil spill in the Sundarbans. Photo by Anup Kundus 28 Jan 2015.

Rare animals and wild bird died by oil spill in the Sundarbans. Photo by Anup Kundus 28 Jan 2015.

Sundarbans, a UNESCO-projected World Heritage site that is the largest remaining mangrove forest in the world, has saved millions of Bangladeshi lives by offering critical protection against devastating cyclones. It provides a vital habitat for many rare and endangered species, sequester carbon, and serve as a life-saving buffer against the devastating tropical storms that are increasing in frequency and intensity with global warming. But the massive oil spill from a tanker accident has spelled disaster for its delicate ecology. Officials said that the slick had spread over up to 70 kilometers (45 miles) of the Shela river, a major sanctuary for aquatic animals in the Sundarbans. At least 20 canals connected with the Shela as well as another major river, Pashur, have also been affected.

To make it worse, Indian corporations are pushing the government in Bangladesh for other commercial projects like the Rampal coal plant which, they call, a Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC),which pose further huge threats to the Sundarbans. The proposed coal-fired power plant at Rampal, just 14 km, from the Sundarbans Reserve Forest, would destroy a vital habitat for many rare and endangered species, and million of Bangladeshi people.Thus the next accident is right around the corner unless we are able to form a global movement, joining the hands of national and local struggles against this corporate grabbing in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government is relentlessly pursuing major industrial projects like the 1320 megawatt Rampal coal plant that will generate enormous volumes of toxic waste and leave the forest waterways vulnerable to future hazardous spills.

Common people in Bangladesh are deeply concerned to the threats, and the majority of Bangladeshis are desperate to save the Sundarbans. On 6 February, the Bangladesh National Committee is holding a convention in Dhaka to address the gravity of the concerns and associated threats to the Sundarbans. The National Committee has declared a 5-day nationwide long march from Dhaka to Sundarbans which will be held in mid-March to re-mobilise peoples voices against this devastating project.

We call upon every concerned citizen of the world to take action, to join our campaign and fight against this devastating coal based power plant in Bangladesh. We express full solidarity to the 6th February Dhaka Convention to Save the Sundarbans, organised by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports in Bangladesh. We extend our support to and call upon every Bangladeshi to join the long march from Dhaka to the Sundarbans. We support also the petition of Avaaz https://secure.avaaz.org/en/protect_sundarbans_r2/?bzrstbb&v=52337

As our friends at Avaaz points out, UNESCO is concerned about the situation, and if enough of us raise our voices now, we can persuade them to officially declare the Sundarbans as a “World Heritage in Danger” and force the Bangladesh government to protect the forest.  Let’s sign the petition of Avaaz.org. whilst sharing news of protests in Bangladesh and beyond.

For further Information read:

Oil Spill in Bangladesh Threatens Aquatic Animals (NYTimes)
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2014/12/12/world/asia/ap-as-bangladesh-oil-spill.html?_r=0

Sundarbans Threatened (The Daily Star)
http://archive.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/sundarbans-threatened/

Rampal power plant: A project of deception and mass destruction (BDNews24)
http://opinion.bdnews24.com/2013/09/19/rampal-power-plant-a-project-of-deception-and-mass-destructio…

Threat to Sundarbans Concerns UNESCO (The Financial Express)
http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/12/14/70905

Wake-up Call: Save Forests in Bangladesh (Asia News Network)
http://www.asianewsnet.net/news-69888.html

List of World Heritage in Danger (UNESCO)
http://whc.unesco.org/en/danger/

Report of Oil Spill in the river Shela: http://ncbd.org/?p=1338

Preliminary Research Outcome of the impact of Oil Spill (by Dr. Abdullah Harun)          http://ncbd.org/wp-co

ntent/uploads/2014/12/Impact-of-oil-spills-on-the-Sundarbans_AHC.pdf

In defence of national and environmental interest

By Samina Luthfa, 18 January 2015

Phulbari is not a controversy. It is the name and symbol of a successful resistance by community people threatened with displacement by a proposed open-pit coal mine by GCM Resources in 5,600 hectares of land (including arable land with high cropping intensity) in four thanas of Dinajpur. Open mining requires stripping off the soil over the deposit that lies at least 150 meter or deeper (upto270 meters) under the earth. The mining company has changed its names twice after a community protest rally against the Phulbari project was attacked and protestors shot at, killing three young protestors in 2006.

Grand rally  of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa

Grand rally of locals in Phulbari town on 27 December. Photo credit: Kallol Mustafa

Although the company’s revised documents say that the stripping will be done in phases, two highly placed government-led expert committees were not convinced in favour of the mine that will directly affect the lives and livelihoods of at least 1,00,000 people (2006). Foreign environmental experts extensively criticised the company’s Environmental Impact Assessment for being incomplete and vague. The human displacement and environmental costs are so high that United Nations’ rapporteurs also made statements expressing opposition to the proposed mine.

‘Self-proclaimed’ or not, local communities and environmental justice platforms like the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port must have had logical objections against the proposed project; why else would international financiers like the Asian Development Bank and Barclays Capital feel compelled to withdraw their financial support from the project since 2008? Long before the incident of November 24, 2014, the project based in London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market had been termed ‘risky’ by industry experts like Rosie Carr in 2006 (Identify the Risks, The Investors’ Chronicle, the Financial Times).

My own doctoral research from the University of Oxford quantitatively compared incidences of community-based protests against 398 open-pit mines in South Asia. Factors like density of population, proportion of area under forest cover, and ownership by a multinational company predicted the highest probability of protest in the proposed Phulbari deposit. This research result was formally conveyed to the shareholders of GCM in their Annual General Meeting of 2011. This means that the investors are well aware of the financial risks they are taking by investing in the Phulbari project.

When such a volatile project with a high degree of environmental, political and social risks and very strong local-national-transnational opposition is supported by a quarter, what I see is unfettered greed of profiteering by some people with no environmental, social and cultural conscience at all. No matter how strongly the locals protest it, or how persuasively the experts explain that the mine would be devastating for the water aquifers, for example, they will not stop. Because they do not care about Bangladesh or its FDI rates; they are only worried about their profit, with every pence increasing their share value in the AIM. The ranting of these ‘investors’ about our country and our politicians in their discussion forums clearly show that all they care about is profiteering through stock manipulation in London that is independent of what the marginalised protestors at Phulbari do or do not do.

Placard used in a protest against the exploitative British company. Photo: Golam Rabbani

Placard used in a protest against the exploitative British company. Photo: Golam Rabbani

The company, as erroneously suggested by some, does NOT have a ‘permission for mining’ yet from the government. A letter from the government that is often used as an evidence of contract clearly states that the permission to mine is dependent on the following: “on receipt of the Feasibility Study Report, the technical aspects of the project will be examined and evaluated by experts and on the basis of this government will take final decision regarding real mining operation…Within this time, the lessee will not conduct any commercial activities of the mine.” On one hand, the expert committee formed after this letter expressed opposition to the project, and on the other, the Phulbari Chukti that said ‘no open mine anywhere in the country’ was signed by the BNP-led government representatives in 2006 and was supported by the then opposition leader Sheikh Hasina. It is an obligation for any incumbent politician to uphold these.

The local resistance started in 2005, gathered momentum and peaked in 2006. National committee joined the locals later to support their resistance. The locals successfully showed how the mine was not only threatening for them but also for our national interest. It wouldonly benefit the company as it would have owned all the coal, giving a small amount of royalty to Bangladesh (much lower than the convention) and some supply of coal for our power generation. 80% of the coal produced was earmarked for export to India through a very vulnerable eco-system in Southern Bangladesh — the Sundarbans. The far-reaching probable effect of this on the mangrove forest is probably clearer now after the oil tanker spill in Shela river in December 2014.

There exist several doctoral and post-graduate dissertation-based research from well-reputed western universities like Chicago, Sussex, Amsterdam, and faculty and NGO level research in Bangladesh, UK and USA, that show how strong the opposition against the mining project is and why it is the case: too costly for communities due to huge displacement, high environmental risk in a riverine area like Bangladesh where any seepage or extraction of water table has a far reaching environmental impact and increase in food insecurity with the loss of highly active arable land to the mine. All these for whose benefit: to produce electricity to export to India! Farewell to national interest, eh?

Last but not the least, FDI inflow increased 98% over the last fiscal year according to the Board of

Bangladeshi activist protests against the company outside the AGM. Photo: Paul V Dudman

Bangladeshi activist protests against the company outside the AGM. Photo: Paul V Dudman

Investments’ own records, which proves that although Phulbari is in stalemate for the last 8 years, the national investment scenario looks pretty good. I am no economist but my common sense suggests that first, foreign investment depends on global trends and is therefore dependent more on global crises than one single project. Second, GCM’s investment is not that big given the country’s whole investment scenario. Third, there are other more profitable sectors in the country where foreign investment is less risky and better-suited for investors who care for long-term returns rather than the short term return required by GCM’s short-sighted investors, whom I closely observed for one year in 2010-11. Finally, increase in FDI in power sector without a concern for sustainable growth often is responsible for creating a ‘resource curse.’ Experiences of countries like Nigeria, Sudan, Columbia and Afghanistan tell us how an increase in FDI in the energy sector negatively trapped the countries into poverty and dependence. Are we to welcome any investment that intends to export our resources at high financial, environmental and social cost and benefit only a few investors and some corrupt government officials? Or are we to bid farewell to the bad investments and welcome those that propose to extract responsibly keeping in mind the prospect of future generations to come?

**The above article is reproduced, with thanks to the Daily Star

The writer is Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Dhaka. She earned her doctorate from the University of Oxford, UK, in 2013 on the Phulbari Resistance. The research was funded by the Commonwealth Commission.

Challenging the Invisible and Invalid Contract

Response to ‘Farewell to FDI?’ Reproduced op-ed from the Daily Star  

By Kallol Mustafa, 20 January, 2015

The op-ed piece (‘Farewell to FDI?’,The Daily Star, Jan 13, 2015) is based on some misleading and partial information regarding Asia Energy’s (GCM) Phulbari Coal Project and the peoples’ protest against it. The writer termed the peoples’ protest against Asia Energy chief’s visit to Phulbari as ‘vandalism’ but did not mention how, for a long time, Asia Energy has been trying to bribe the local youth, provide them with drugs and destabilise the local situation. He blamed the government and local administration for not taking action against the protesters and warned that this might harm foreign investment, without even mentioning the responsibility of the government to implement the Phulbari agreement signed with the local people and honour expert opinion against open pit mining on different occasions.

The writer declared the government official’s denial of existence of mining contract with Asia Energy as “erroneous,” as he completely relied on Asia Energy propaganda published in Energy & Power, but failed to present the correct picture based on original documents and experts’ opinion already submitted to the government.

Based on the article ‘Records Need making Straight’, published in Energy & Power, widely known as lobbyist of Asia Energy, the writer states that Asia Energy has valid contract for mining with the government of Bangladesh and it obtained ‘mining lease’ in April 2004.  But the April 2004 letter, which the Energy & Power article referred to as evidence of Asia Energy’s mining contract, was indeed issued “…in the interest of preparing feasibility report and submitting to the government” and in no way can be used as a valid contract for mining operation. It was very clear in its following statement:

“(c) On receipt of the Feasibility Study Report, the technical aspects of the project will be examined and evaluated by experts and on the basis of this government will take final decision regarding real mining operation.

(d) Within this time, the lessee will not conduct any commercial activities of the mine.” (Emphasis added)

He also missed the evaluation and recommendation of the expert committee (formed by the government and headed by Prof. Nurul Islam) on the development plan submitted by Asia Energy. The expert committee in its report rejected the development plan of Asia Energy saying that:

According to the Mines and Minerals Rules prepared in 1968 under East Pakistan Mines & Minerals act 1967 (Regulation & Development) and amended in 1987 and 1989, royalty rate was fixed at 20% of the price of produced coal at the mine mouth. Accordingly, the Bureau of Mineral Development (BMD) signed an agreement for Boropukuria coalmine on 10/07/1994 at 20% royalty rate. Yet, on 20/08/1994, only a month and ten days after having signed this agreement, the BMD signed another agreement with BHP for coal mining in Dinajpur and Rangpur areas at only 6% royalty rate. This agreement with BHP is illegal as per the then existing mining law. In this situation, this illegal contract may be declared invalid and steps should be taken against concerned persons according to Article 5 of Mines and Mineral Act 1992.

According to Article 32 of Mines and Mineral rules 1968, which was in effect during the signing of the contract, as 3 years had already passed after first issuance of the license, the authorities did not have any right to extend the license period beyond 15/01/1998. For that reason the license renewal order on 26/01/98 for Area ‘B’ was illegal. During handover of the license for Area ‘B’ under the Assignment Contract [the transfer of contract from BHP to Asia Energy], BHP did not have any valid license to transfer as the license was already expired. That’s why all actions taken by the Asia Energy in that block are illegal. BHP lost permission for all kind of activities in Block ‘B’ on 15/01/98 in consequence of which Asia Energy did not have any valid permission to work in that block. So Asia Energy never had any right to apply for mining lease.

For the above two reasons, the Assignment contract signed with Asia Energy on 11/02/1998 has no legal basis. Alternatively, if it is considered that the application for the mining lease will be operated under Mining Rules amended in 1995, the government still cannot consider the Mining Lease Application because 3% of the estimated cost of the scheme has not been deposited with the application as Bank Guaranty as required by the Rules. It is to be noted that 3% of the total estimated cost — $12,460 million (capital cost $2090 million + operating cost $10,370) is $373.8 million, i.e Tk. 2, 616 crore.

(Source: Article 5.2, Report of the Expert Committee (REC) to Evaluate Feasibility Study Report and Scheme of Development of the Phulbari Coal Project, submitted by Messieurs Asia Energy Corporation, (Bangladesh) Pvt. Ltd. (AEC), 20 September 2006 [Author’s translation])

In brief, according to the expert committee, the contract and exploration license which Asia Energy received from BHP have no legal basis and the so-called mining lease (without permission of mining!) granted to Asia Energy under this contract is also legally invalid. That’s why there was nothing wrong or erroneous when Energy and Mineral Resources Division Secretary Abu Bakar Siddique said: “Asia Energy has no valid licenses to develop Phulbari coal mine” (Daily Sun, 8 Dec 2014).

Therefore, the government of Bangladesh (GOB) has no legally binding obligation to allow Asia Energy to do open pit mining and mining related activities in Phulbari, and there is no question of damage payment to Asia Energy for scrapping the Phulbari project as feared by Mr. Syed Mansur Hashim. Rather, the GOB can easily reject its Feasibility Study and Mine Development Scheme for open pit mining following the recommendations of the expert committee.

In fact, the GOB has legal and moral obligation to scrap Phulbari coal project according to the agreement signed between the government of Bangladesh and the people (National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Port and Power represented the people) on August 30, 2006. The agreement was fully supported by the then opposition leader and current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The main point of the agreement was: “Phulbari coal project will be scrapped and Asia energy will be ousted from the country.” It is now the duty of the GOB to implement its legal and moral obligation to the people by taking action against illegal activities of Asia Energy.

Read this article on the Daily Star (20/01/15): Response to ‘Farewell to FDI?’

Protests at GCM Resources AGM over Phulbari coal mine

Protests at GCM Resources AGM over Phulbari coal mine

By Raaj Manik, 5 December 2013

A noisy and powerful protest was held outside the AGM of London-based mining company GCM Resources, on 4 December, over the company’s proposed Phulbari coal mine in Bangladesh, which if it goes ahead will displace an estimated 130,000 people and will pose threats  to the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forests and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

demo5

The British mining company GCM Resources is currently under investigation by the UK government following a complaint by the World Development Movement and the International Accountability Project. The complaint claims the mine would breach OECD rules by violating the human rights of the people who would be forcibly displaced and impoverished by the project.

The project 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. The project threatens to destroy the homes, lands, and water sources of as many as 220,000 people, and forcibly evict an estimated 130,000 people. The mine would violate the rights of indigenous people living in the area.

The Phulbari coal project has been on hold since 2006 due to intense local and national opposition. Three people were killed and many more injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on a protest against the mine in August 2006.The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations and the UK government’s National Contact Point.

The UK government’s investigation will evaluate whether GCM Resources has breached obligations to ensure meaningful and adequate consultation about the project, or to carry out appropriate due diligence to ensure that its project does not violate people’s human rights.

demo

The company has admitted that most of the people living in the area affected by the mine “will become landless”. Yet the company wants to move forward with its plans of forced – displacement and destruction in north – west of Bangladesh. Yesterday, the company has reassured the shareholder that it has plans to persuade the future government of Bangladesh to approve the destructive project soon after the election. Gary Lye, the company’s unwanted CEO, who had to leave Phulbari amidst protests by villagers earlier this year, told the shareholders that he is keeping contacts with government of Bangladesh through his confidential sources.

But the protesters told this correspondent that GCM will never go Demo2back to Bangladesh. This company had to leave Phulbari on people’s verdict in 2006.

Yesterday’s protest was held by members of the UK Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Port and Power in Bangladesh, the Phulbari Solidarity Group, the World Development Movement and the London Mining Network and other Bangladeshi activist groups.

See further details at:


London protest held at GCM Resources AGM over Open Pit Mining in  Phulbari


Protests at GCM Resources AGM over Bangladesh coal mine


Chairman of GCM Resources offered Jobseeker’s Allowance claim form by concerned shareholder

Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

Article reproduced from the World Development Movement website:

Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

By Miriam Ross, 4 February 2013

DSC07961Massive protests against British mining company GCM Resources prevented the company’s CEO visiting the site of its proposed open-pit coal mine in Bangladesh last week. One of the company’s directors resigned the following day.

CEO Gary Lye was due to visit Phulbari on 29 January, where GCM wants to open a mine that would displace up to 220,000 people. Mr Lye had planned to distribute blankets to people living in the area, according to the local press. Thousands of people joined protests against the mine, and Lye abandoned his visit on official advice.

One of GCM’s directors, Graham Taggart, resigned on Wednesday. The company’s largest shareholder, Polo Resources, has announced that it is considering selling its 29.77 per cent stake in the company.

A Bangladeshi parliamentary committee has also spoken out against GCM, claiming that that the company does not have a valid agreement with the Bangladeshi government to proceed with the mine.

The British mining company has faced sustained opposition to its planned mine. Three people were killed and around 200 injured when paramilitary officers opened fire on protestors in 2006.
The mine in the northwest of Bangladesh is projected to extract 572 million tons of coal over at least 36 years. Eighty per cent of the coal would be exported. As well as displacing up to 220,000 people, it threatens to destroy a major food-producing agricultural region, and pollute of the world’s largest remaining mangrove forest, the Sundarban Reserve Forest, a UNESCO-protected World Heritage site.

GCM’s London AGM ended in chaos in December when a protestor dressed as Santa Claus presented chairman Gerard Holden with a Christmas stocking full of coal.

World Development Movement campaigner Christine Haigh said today:

The Phulbari mine would devastate hundreds of thousands of lives, destroying valuable agricultural land and causing irreparable environmental damage. It’s high time GCM listened to the massive sustained opposition in Bangladesh and abandoned the project.

Further Links:

London Mining Network (06/02/2013): Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

World Development Movement (04/02/2013): Protests prevent British mining company GCM visiting mine site in Bangladesh – director resigns

Coal Guru (05/02/2013):  Future of the Phulbari coal project of GCM in Bangladesh in doubt

The Manufacturer (04/02/2013): Mining CEO resigns after Bangladeshi protests

The Daily Star (30/01/2013): Top Asia Energy official’s visit sparks protest in Dinajpur

The Daily Telegraph (30/01/2013): Tough at the Polo coalface (scroll down)

News: Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow

Disappearing world … a project for climate refugees near Cox’s Bazar, as people have been forced from islands such as Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal. Photograph: Salman Saeed. The Guardian Online – Sea change: the Bay of Bengal’s vanishing islands.

The Guardian Online has recently published an interesting audio slideshow detailing the impact of climate change on refugees and Bangladesh.  The article is entitled, `Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow’ and the introduction to the article states:

Many Bangladeshis have relocated from the vanishing island of Kutubdia in the Bay of Bengal to Cox’s Bazaar. But they are being asked to move once again as sea levels rise and people’s livelihoods are put at risk by climate change. John Vidal interviews Kutubdia island administrator Firoza Ahmed, who defends the government’s attempts to protect people but recognises that food production is being hampered, and Aminul Hashim, who has been displaced and says: ‘I have lost all of my land, my house. It’s very hard here’

The full link to the audio slideshow is here:  www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/interactive/2013/jan/29/bangladesh-climate-refugees-audio-slideshow

The Guardian Online has published a number of related articles which are detailed below:

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh’s climate refugees: ‘it’s a question of life’ – audio slideshow

The Guardian Online – Sea change: the Bay of Bengal’s vanishing islands

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh: after the floods comes the hunger – in pictures

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh’s once welcome floods are now harbingers of disaster

The Guardian Online – Bangladesh farmers caught in vicious cycle of flood and debt

The Guardian Online – The threat posed by climate change in Bangladesh – in pictures

The Guardian Online – ‘We have seen the enemy': Bangladesh’s war against climate change