Struggle and Resistance, NOT Submission

Verdict in London meeting about Corporate Plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh

By Raaj Manik

On a sunny Sunday, the 28th of September 2014, the Bangladeshi community organisers and environmental campaigners have made it explicit once again that Bangladeshis will not tolerate any corporate plundering of the Energy and Power Sector in Bangladesh. In a packed meeting at the Montefiore Centre in East London, an estimated 55 transnational activists and community representatives 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.

Key note speaker, Prof Anu Muhammad (from left) and the Chairperson of the UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit:  Paul Dudman

Key note speaker, Prof Anu Muhammad (from left), and the Chairperson of the UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

The event kicked in by a key note speech by a distinguished economist and the secretary of the Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh, Professor Anu Muhammad, who was visiting the UK. In his two-hour presentation, Muhammad explored the illegitimate and corrupted activities of various multinational companies in Bangladesh and discussed how these company-aggressions are causing severe threats to Bangladesh’s environment, people’s livelihood and human rights. He highlighted the aggression of a UK based company, GCM Resources, in particular. Despite huge protests and three deaths, GCM is still pressing ahead with a massive open-cast coal mining operation in Phulbari, the north-west Bangladesh, which will displace up to 200,000 people, destroy over 14,660 acres of agricultural land and devastate the water resources of another 220,000 people. If implemented, 94% of the revenue generated by the planned mine will be taken by GCM, leaving only 6% for the government. ‘It is a daylight robbery’, says Anu Muhammad.

But the ‘spirit of resistance is still very active’, he added. Three activists were killed during a mass movement which forced the government to completely withdraw the entire open-cast coal mining operation in Phulbari in 2006, a promise it appears not to be keeping. People’s powerful resistance has forced the GCM’s chief executive, Gary Lye, to cancel his plans to visit Phulbari last year. Due to the ‘volatile situation prevailed at Dinajpur’s Phulbari’ in Bangladesh, Gary left the area, quickly, with the help of the District Commissioner and local police. There were all-day protests against his visit by locals ‘carrying sticks’ and ‘home-made dusting brushes’.

Audience with Anu Muhammad and leaders of UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit: Socialist Party of England and Wales

Audience with Anu Muhammad and leaders of UK branch of National Committee. Photo credit: Socialist Party of England and Wales

Anu Muhammad says, Bangladesh is a fertile country, rich in water and mineral wealth. In the mid-1990s, the World Bank promoted the privatisation of gas, oil and other natural resources in Bangladesh with the promise that it would bring ‘cheap gas and save huge amounts of money for the public exchequer’. But ‘that is the opposite of the case’,  Muhammad explained. Oil and gas companies like ConcoPhillips and Chevron moved in and now the cost of production is anything from 10 to 30 times more than it was in the hands of Petrobangla, the government-owned national oil company of Bangladesh. Muhammad argued that while it costs 1 billion taka to drill an oil well, the cost in the hands of Unocal Bangladesh, bought by Chevron in 2005, was 15 billion. One energy project estimated at 20 billion taka cost 180 billion.
‘Sustainable power solutions are not possible with these greedy corporations’, the Professor stated. He argues, ‘while renewable energy’ has huge potential and a real future’, the government is not considering those sources under heavy pressure of the multinational companies. Meanwhile 5 billion in US dollars (387 billion Bangladesh taka) is owed by US and Canadian corporations in unpaid compensation for accidents and Chevron effectively pays ‘nothing in tax but claims to be the number one taxpayer’. Every penny Chevron pays in tax is refunded by the government through Petrobangla. Professor Muhammad asked, ‘so who is running the country?’

Anu Muhammad’s speech was followed by 12 speakers and campaigners, each of whom expressed their determination to continue the campaign against corporations’ aggression in Bangladesh. Rumana Hashem, the coordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group and an eye witness to the killing of three people by Asia Energy (thereafter GCM) in Phulbari in 2006, argued that it is not only the corporations but also the governments in UK promote the ruination of Bangladesh by multinational companies. She said that in 2009 the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) in UK did not consider her eye witness and evidence of human rights violation in Phulbari by the Global Coal Management. ‘But they did consider the company’s dodgy response to our report’, she added.

Rumana Hashem, the Coordinator  of Phulbari Solidarity Group on 28 Sep 2014 . Photo credit:  Paul Dudman

Rumana Hashem, the Coordinator of Phulbari Solidarity Group on 28 Sep 2014 . Photo credit: Paul Dudman

In their published report the JCHR  initially noted that the report, co-authored by Rumana Hashem and Paul Dudman, was not published in order to save printing cost. Later on, while contacted about the reasons for such financial hardship of the UK Parliament, the clerk of the JCHR changed the tone and told that the information which ‘they have provided were too sensitive in nature’. ‘As though it is not insensible when British company killed our people in Phulbari’, Hashem said in pointing out the politics behind this story. She provided a report on how the UK governments are failing to respond to Bangladeshi and transnational environmentalist campaigners’ call for closing down unethical business of British corporations in Bangladesh. She said, ‘a series of FOI requests, carried out by London Mining Network in 2012 and World Development Movement in 2014, suggest further bias of UK government’. Hashem concluded her speech by calling upon the forum to stand up and to prepare for a ‘tough battle’. She said, ‘we stand for struggle and resistance, not submission’.
The forum responded to her call for struggle and resistance by a big clap. Speakers invited to the meeting included World Development Movement, the Socialist Party (England and Wales), the Communist Party of Britain, and the Socialist and Communist Parties of Bangladesh alongside the Phulbari Solidarity Group who are continuing to advocate and campaign to stop the GCM. Despite brief attempts to drown out the discussion by a group of unruly Bangladeshi government supporters who had taken an adjoining room, speakers and campaigners against multinational company aggression in Bangladesh clearly stated their firm position and declared that they are not going to tolerate ruination of Bangladesh.  Effie Jordan of World Development Movement asserted that WDM will continue to work with the people of Bangladesh and will advocate for a permanent halt of the Phulbari project.

Pete Mason of Socialist Party (Tower Hamlets Borough) expresses solidarity to fight multinational company. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Pete Mason of Socialist Party (Tower Hamlets Borough) expresses solidarity to fight multinational company. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Pete Mason of Socialist Party emphasised,  ‘the Socialist Party’s demand for public ownership of the UK energy industry – and this would of course include GCM. In addition, the Socialist Party demands that compensation should only be given to the share owners in cases of genuine need’. He called for an ‘ecologically-minded, democratically drawn up socialist plan of production to end the madness of capitalist exploitation of the planet and the dangerous global warming that has resulted. This would end the profit-motivated depredation of Bangladesh by companies like GCM’.

The invited speakers of the UK branch of the Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh expressed their determination to stop multinational companies’ corrupted activities through their ongoing campaigns. The public meeting was organised by the UK branch of the Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Natural Resources in Bangladesh. The meeting started by a welcome speech by Akhter Sobhan Khan Masroor, the Secretary of the Committee, and ended by a vote of thanks by Mokhlesur Rahman, the Chairperson of the Committee. The event was endorsed by the Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, World Development Movement, International Accountability Project (USA), Socialist Party (England and Wales), the Communist Party of Britain,  Jubo Union, Friends of Bangladesh Students Union, and several Bangladeshi community organisations in London.

Farzana Majid of Bangladesh Sector Commander Forum  expresses solidarity to the National Committee's campaign against Corporate Plundering in Bangladesh. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Farzana Majid of Bangladesh Sector Commander Forum expresses solidarity to the National Committee’s campaign against Corporate Plundering in Bangladesh. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Communist party of UK leader expresses solidarity. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

Communist party of UK leader expresses solidarity. Photo credit: Paul Dudman

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‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the energy ministry to wait for ‘new technology’ before going for coal extraction’

‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the energy ministry to wait for ‘new technology’ before going for coal extraction’

Wait for ‘new technology’: PM

Stressing the need to protect arable land, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has directed the energy ministry to wait for ‘new technology’ before going for coal extraction.

She also outlined the ministry’s future challenges and ways to tackle them.

State Minister Nasrul Hamid Bipu briefed journalists on Thursday after her first visit to the ministry in two-and-a-half-years.

“The Prime Minister told ministry officials that new technology to extract coal may become available soon. We will wait for it,” he said quoting the Prime Minister.

Hasina’s directive comes amid controversies on whether Bangladesh should go for open-pit mining along with importing coal to meet increasing power demands.

Hamid was, however, silent on coal extraction issues. He also did not explain how thermal power production could be raised while waiting for ‘new technology’.

He said the Prime Minister wanted protection of farmers’ land first and coal extraction to be left to the future.

Hamid said Hasina, who also holds the energy portfolio, had ordered the stepping up of coal extraction research.

State-run oil, gas and mineral resources corporation Petrobangla claims Bangladesh has five coal mines with an estimated combined reserve of 3.1 billion tonnes.

Currently, an estimated 1.65 million tonnes of coal is produced annually from one of the mines through underground mining.

A group of experts, environmentalists, various Leftist fronts oppose open-pit mining which pollutes the environment, lays waste to arable land and displaces the habitants.

Despite a matter of high priority, the government has failed to formulate a coal policy in the past decade.

About 75 percent of Bangladesh’s power comes from gas while coal is used to produce less than 3 percent.

The government claims electricity generation increased nearly 5,000MW over the past five years. A ‘Festival of Light’ was held in Dhaka last year to mark the production of 10,000MW, hitting a new milestone in the country. It also plans to raise power production to 30,000MW by 2030, half of which would come from coal.

However, according to information presented in Parliament last June, around 40 percent people still do not have access to electricity.

Bipu said the Prime Minister had directed the setting up of a coal-fired power plant near the Paira Port in southern Patuakhali.

The government recently faced a wave of protests when it decided to go ahead with a 1,320MW thermal power plant at Rampal, near the Sunderbans.

Full article – bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2014/02/06/wait-for-new-technology-pm

 

PM’s strategy on coal: Asia Energy’s future with Phulbari bleak

Reported by: UNBconnect
Reported on: February 8th, 2014 12:02:55 am

Dhaka, Feb 7 (UNB) – The future of Phulbari coal mine project of UK-based Asia Energy, since renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM), has become bleak following the Prime Minister’s recent distinct statement on coal mining in the country.

 

While holding meeting with Power and Energy Ministry’s top officials on Thursday (February 6), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “Right now, we want to leave the issue of coal extraction to the future technology as food security and protecting the land of the farmers is the first priority.”

 

The Asia Energy entered Bangladesh in 2003 buying a contract from Australian company BHP to explore coal in Phulbari of Dinajour district. But when Asia Energy moved to execute its project as an open-pit mining, it faced tremendous opposition from local community and environmentalists.

 

The major protests took place on August 30 in 2006, where six protesters were shot dead, allegedly by paramilitary forces, and 300 were injured when a crowd of 30,000 people stormed the local offices of Asia Energy in Dinajpur.

 

The incident forced the government to announce postponement of the operation of Asia Energy’s Phulbari project. The Asia Energy was renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM) in 2007.

 

Recently, different activities of Asia Energy or GCM have been suggesting that the company is planning to come back in a new way to implement its project. Particularly, the GCM, a listed company with London Stock Exchange showing Phulbari coal mine as its project, became active in the country’s northern region where it recently launched some campaigns to garner local public support in its favour.

 

The GCM’s campaign raised serious concern among the anti-Phulbari activists who also threaten to reactivate their protest to resist the UK-company’s move.

 

Meantime, GCM reconstituted its board of directors and brought major changes in its Dhaka as well as London office by putting some new directors and staffs which also suggests the company is really coming up with new enthusiasm.

 

Sources said the company also recast its strategy to win the deal for exploration of the proposed Phulbari coal mine.

 

As part of the new strategy, the company has inducted a young Malaysian tycoon as a Non-Executive Director, removing a Briton from the Board of Directors.

 

With the announcement, Malaysian tycoon Dato’ Md Wira Dani Bin Abdul Daim has replaced British entrepreneur Neil Lindsey Herbert from the board of directors of GCM.

 

“Under the leadership of Malaysian business tycoon, the GCM was eyeing to rearrange its strategy in winning a deal for commercial exploration of the proposed Phulbari coalmine district,” said a source.

 

The GCM appointed Mettiz, an investment company with significant corporate and financial experience in natural resources, power generation, manufacturing and real estate, a lobbyist in Bangladesh last year to get approval of the government for commercial exploration of the Phulbari coalmine.

 

But, energy industry insiders thought the Prime Minister’s statement has made it clear that the project is unlikely to be executed in near future.

 

Quoting the Prime Minister, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said she has given us a directive regarding coal extraction saying that “first of all we need” food security and land use.

 

“Only after ensuring food security and protecting farmers’ land, we’ll decide which technology we’ll use to extract coal,” he told reporters following the PM’s meeting.

 

Asia Energy Bangladesh’s CEO Gary Lye, however, said Phulbari Coal Project uses the land for mining temporarily. Land is immediately rehabilitated and returned to agriculture after extracting the coal which is a far greater benefit for the country.

 

He said Asia Energy is concerned to ensure food security and the company’s agriculture improvement plan will increase the food production from the area as well as allow coal extraction and jobs.

 

“We (will) welcome the opportunity to brief the Prime Minister on these plans and show how she can deliver for the people and country coal, major power and food security. People from the area want the coal mining and development benefits it’ll bring to them and their region which is one of the Bangladesh poorest regions.”   

 

Bangladesh has five coal fields with an estimated reserve of some 3.0 billion tonnes, industry insiders said. Of the five coal fields, only one in Barapukuria is now in operation.

– See more at: http://unbconnect.com/pm-coal-ld/#&panel1-2

PM’s strategy on coal: Asia Energy’s future with Phulbari bleak

Reported by: UNBconnect
Reported on: February 8th, 2014 12:02:55 am

Dhaka, Feb 7 (UNB) – The future of Phulbari coal mine project of UK-based Asia Energy, since renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM), has become bleak following the Prime Minister’s recent distinct statement on coal mining in the country.

 

While holding meeting with Power and Energy Ministry’s top officials on Thursday (February 6), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “Right now, we want to leave the issue of coal extraction to the future technology as food security and protecting the land of the farmers is the first priority.”

 

The Asia Energy entered Bangladesh in 2003 buying a contract from Australian company BHP to explore coal in Phulbari of Dinajour district. But when Asia Energy moved to execute its project as an open-pit mining, it faced tremendous opposition from local community and environmentalists.

 

The major protests took place on August 30 in 2006, where six protesters were shot dead, allegedly by paramilitary forces, and 300 were injured when a crowd of 30,000 people stormed the local offices of Asia Energy in Dinajpur.

 

The incident forced the government to announce postponement of the operation of Asia Energy’s Phulbari project. The Asia Energy was renamed as Global Coal Management (GCM) in 2007.

 

Recently, different activities of Asia Energy or GCM have been suggesting that the company is planning to come back in a new way to implement its project. Particularly, the GCM, a listed company with London Stock Exchange showing Phulbari coal mine as its project, became active in the country’s northern region where it recently launched some campaigns to garner local public support in its favour.

 

The GCM’s campaign raised serious concern among the anti-Phulbari activists who also threaten to reactivate their protest to resist the UK-company’s move.

 

Meantime, GCM reconstituted its board of directors and brought major changes in its Dhaka as well as London office by putting some new directors and staffs which also suggests the company is really coming up with new enthusiasm.

 

Sources said the company also recast its strategy to win the deal for exploration of the proposed Phulbari coal mine.

 

As part of the new strategy, the company has inducted a young Malaysian tycoon as a Non-Executive Director, removing a Briton from the Board of Directors.

 

With the announcement, Malaysian tycoon Dato’ Md Wira Dani Bin Abdul Daim has replaced British entrepreneur Neil Lindsey Herbert from the board of directors of GCM.

 

“Under the leadership of Malaysian business tycoon, the GCM was eyeing to rearrange its strategy in winning a deal for commercial exploration of the proposed Phulbari coalmine district,” said a source.

 

The GCM appointed Mettiz, an investment company with significant corporate and financial experience in natural resources, power generation, manufacturing and real estate, a lobbyist in Bangladesh last year to get approval of the government for commercial exploration of the Phulbari coalmine.

 

But, energy industry insiders thought the Prime Minister’s statement has made it clear that the project is unlikely to be executed in near future.

 

Quoting the Prime Minister, State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said she has given us a directive regarding coal extraction saying that “first of all we need” food security and land use.

 

“Only after ensuring food security and protecting farmers’ land, we’ll decide which technology we’ll use to extract coal,” he told reporters following the PM’s meeting.

 

Asia Energy Bangladesh’s CEO Gary Lye, however, said Phulbari Coal Project uses the land for mining temporarily. Land is immediately rehabilitated and returned to agriculture after extracting the coal which is a far greater benefit for the country.

 

He said Asia Energy is concerned to ensure food security and the company’s agriculture improvement plan will increase the food production from the area as well as allow coal extraction and jobs.

 

“We (will) welcome the opportunity to brief the Prime Minister on these plans and show how she can deliver for the people and country coal, major power and food security. People from the area want the coal mining and development benefits it’ll bring to them and their region which is one of the Bangladesh poorest regions.”   

 

Bangladesh has five coal fields with an estimated reserve of some 3.0 billion tonnes, industry insiders said. Of the five coal fields, only one in Barapukuria is now in operation.

– See more at: http://unbconnect.com/pm-coal-ld/#&panel1-2

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

Phulbari Demo at GCM AGM

Destroying Communities and Damaging Environment

NO MINE in PHULBARI

Call out for Action against GCM Resources plc.

Wednesday, 04 December 2013 at 10am-12pm
Venue: 4 Hamilton Place, London, W1J 7BQ

Phulbari Demo FlyerGCM Resources plc, an AIM-listed UK-based multinational company, supported by major hedge funds and banks including UBS, Credit Suisse, LR Global, and Argos Greater Europe Fund, wants to implement a massive open-pit coal mine in Phulbari in the north-west of Bangladesh, displacing up to 130,000 people and threatening lives. If implemented, 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.

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. The protesters were opposing the proposed open pit coal mine that the Bangladesh subsidiary of GCM Resources plc, Asia Energy, intends to implement. The situation in Phulbari has been tense and volatile since. The potential for violence has remained high in this project ever since August 2006.

The project has generated grave concern at national and international levels including the United Nations. This year the GCM Resources was dealt a serious blow as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agreed to consider complaints regarding severe human rights violations associated with the company’s planned coal mine in Bangladesh.

Last year, 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.”
Yet, GCM is aggressively moving on to implement this immense open pit coal mine ignoring the human rights and environmental degradation the project would leave.

The UK branch of National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources and Port-Power of Bangladesh is campaigning in solidarity with the people of Phulbari to throw GCM Resources/Asia Energy out of Bangladesh. The Committee in UK, in conjunction with the Phulbari Solidarity Group, London Mining Network, and World Development Movement, is holding a demo on Wednesday the 4th of December 2013 outside the Annual General meeting of GCM.

Come and Join us in the protest – Stand with the people in Phulbari – Round up the coal miners on 4th December!

For further information contact the UK branch of National Committee nationalcommittee.uk@googlemail.com or phulbarisolidaritygroup@gmail.com.

Visit:

http://protectbdresources.org.uk, https://phulbarisolidaritygroup.wordpress.com/,www.ncbd.org ; http://londonminingnetwork.org/

Protest against a Fraudulent news about GCM’s support In Phulbari

Protest against a Fraudulent news about GCM’s support In Phulbari

Some of you might have seen a ‘News Report’ in Prothom Alo (Bengali Daily) and a few English newspapers on increase of support for GCM’s project in Phulbari area. The local leaders have sent a press release (Translated by me) that protests against the one-sided story. This is part of the propaganda machine unleashed to get some gain amidst the heightened political crisis in Bangladesh.

One of the local UP Chairman who is mentioned in the news to be supporting GCM’s claims has contacted the National Committee and expressed his surprise as he was never contacted about the content of the ‘news’. Attached is the translation. This is also a very crucial time on the eve of their AGM. They will try to rip some gains from this news in the AGM too.

The following has been translated by Sumina Luthfa:

Protest against Prothom Alo’s Fraudulant news on Phulbari

It has come to our notice that a fraudulent news titled “Phulbari Coal Mine Development: GCM demands positive results from their new strategy” has been published in the Daily Prothom Alo on 24th November. It is to be noted that the name of the reporter is kept secret and they have used ‘Special Correspondent’ in the writer’s line. The way this news report ignores all other views without even checking the facts and presents the view of one side (which in most part is false), it seems that whoever wrote s/he must be one of the paid special correspondents of GCM.

Asia Energy, that is GCM, published a press release on the 31 October. In the release they claimed, “There has been a notable increase in the engagement of the company with the people of the mine footprint. Public support for the mining project is gradually increasing.” It is to be noted here that GCM has been thrown out of the Phulbari region in the 2006. Since then they have been making these sort of false claims to keep their share price in the London Stock Exchange afloat.  It is surprising that just because GCM claimed it, a leading daily like the Prothom Alo has treated it to have news value. How can it be news, when a month has already passed since the press release?  What is also very surprising is, in this ‘news’, the information and facts has not been checked, even people’s representatives or protestors against the Phulbari coal project has not been consulted. They just treated one –side’s claim as news. We see no way of justifying this as journalism!

This ‘news’, claimed that Dinajpur South East Development Front had already collected 50 thousand signature from local people which is allegedly supported by the Chairmen of Birampur, Parbatipur and Nawabganj in their press statement. However, the ‘special correspondent’ did not bother to contact the chairman of Phulbari sub-district where two-third of the mine lies. Moreover, it is because of the resistance from the people of Phulbari that the mine is still being halted. The truth is: due to the presence of the popular opposition in Phulabri the AEC cannot even show their presence there, let alone go and gather signatures. The Dinajpur South-Eastern Development Front have done some signature collection which however, is not about Phulbari mine instead about the upgrading of Birampur into a district.  Therefore, the signatures do not have anything to do with the Phulbari mine.

Moreover, a daily as esteemed as Prothom Alo should not be publishing stories without proper research and acknowledgement from all sides. We hereby, protest against such journalism where fraudulent facts become concocted into ‘news’. We expect that Prothom Alo will publish rejoinder after researching on the topic more and incorporating views from the local people.

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)

Santa evicted after dumping coal at GCM’s boss’s desk – Updated Videos from GCM demo in December 2012

A surprised Father Christmas was thrown out of a multinational corporation’s AGM in London today after presenting the Chairman with a stocking full of coal.

Santa Claus was frogmarched out by irate security at the prestigious meeting of GCM Resources, a controversial multinational corporation whose coal mine plans suffered angry condemnation by UN Special Rapporteurs this February. UN experts warned of “irreversible damage” to ecosystems and 50,000 evictions of indigenous people at the coal mine site in Phulbari, Bangladesh.

St Nicholas, dressed in red and white, entered the elite Insitute of Directors in Pall Mall and dumped a Christmas stocking stuffed with coal on the desk Gerard Holden, GCM’s Chairman, in front of shareholders. Father Christmas said “Ho, ho, ho, you’ve been naughty this year. You threatened to evict 130,000 people so you could profit from polluting the climate. Your stocking’s full of coal; next year maybe you should be a good little boy!”

Livid security pulled Santa from the stage and threw him out of the Insitute of Directors. Santa was last seen looking flustered with his beard at an angle, running haphazardly away from the AGM to a bicycle to make his getaway. It is not known whether Father Christmas will recover in time for the yearly gift-giving on Christmas Eve.

For more information on how to save Phulbari, seehttp://londonminingnetwork.org/

See Video:

See also:

Bangladesh mine activists dump coal outside GCM meeting in London