MNA Editorial Desk: A half day strike (from 6:00am to 2:00pm) was observed at Dhaka City with clashes between the protesters of Rampal coal-based power plant project and the police at Shahbag, Mirpur, Kamalapur and several other places.
The strike was called by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resource, Power and Port. A rally of the protesters started from Shahbag early in the morning as it moved around TSC, Secretariat and then ended at Press Club. A conference at the end of the rally was held at Press Club presided by Dr. Anu Mohammad, President of the committee.
Meanwhile, several students of various cultural and political organizations arranged cultural programs in support of the strike, blocking the roads at Shahbag in front of the Central Public Library. At some point, the police charged on them to clear the roads and that turned into a violent clash between the police and the protesters. Reportedly, around 10 people were injured including Lucky Akter, the President of Chhatra Union. Several others including her are currently admitted at DMC. Police fired rubber bullets, thrown tear shells and sprayed hot water to disassemble the peaceful protesters. Whole Shahbag area became a war zone from these attacks-counter attacks. Similar clashes were reported at Mirpur, Kamalapur and some other areas.
At the opening of the conference at Press Club, Nasir Uddin, leader of ‘Gonomukti Union’ gave his speech as he said, the government was going to implement the Rampal coal-based power plant project in spite of UNESCO’s warning that the Sundarbans would be destroyed if this project is implemented. The convener of ‘Jatiyo Gonotrantrik Gonomoncho’, Masud Khan said, “The government is shamelessly lying about the Rampal project. We are in a war of Rampal”.
Junaed Saki, Chief Co-ordinator of ‘Gono Shonghoti Andolon’ said that, people from different classes of Dhaka City and educational institutes had supported their strike and being afraid of this support, the government had attacked on their protest programs and had arrested many of their activists and this showed the weakness of the government. He also told that, some people were giving statements in support of Rampal power plant projects as they were taking money for giving those statements. “The government wants to implement this project because they want to please India to remain in power,” he added.
Khaleduzzaman, General Secretary of Socialist Party of Bangladesh said that, more than 1,500 hectors of Sundarban’s land had been captured by land-grabbers from 1990 to 2015 and few selfish government backed people had been planning to establish more than 150 factories surrounding the Rampal plant area. He also told, Uzzal Kanti, Project Manager of Rampal coal-based power plant project had denied the presence of any ultra super technology, which the government had been claiming to be used in this project to minimize the environmental damage.
Dr. Anu Mohammad, President of the committee told, in spite of government’s pressure and fear, many general people and transport authorities had participated spontaneously in their strike and this strike created a history in the world as no such activity was ever executed to save forests. He also said that, on last 7th January, 2017, rallies and conferences were held in more than 30 countries to save the Sundarbans. He also criticized government’s decision to execute this project along with Indian company NTPC, which held very bad records inside India and coal-based power plant had already been banned in Delhi as more than one lac people had died every year from such environmental hazard. Only few corrupted personnel inside the government, who would be benefited, support this project whereas any intellectual or wise government person did not support it.
The committee declared their next activities at Press Club. They will observe countrywide protest and unrest day on Jan 28, countrywide location-strikes on roads on Feb 25 and rally with coastal area people in Khulna on Mar 11. They will continue their protest programs until the government backs off from implementing the Rampal coal-based power plant project.