Police foil march against Rampal power plant, 50 injured

Staff Correspondent
Police foil

Police fire tear gas shells to disperse a procession brought out at Paribagh in Dhaka in protest at Rampal power plant near the Sunderbans on Thursday. — Sourav Lasker

At least 50 people were injured as the police foiled a march towards the Prime Minister’s office organised by National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports demanding scrap of planned coal-based Thermal power plant at Rampal near the Sunderbans.
Police attacked the march near Paribagh in the city charging baton and firing tear gas shells to disperse the marchers. At least six people were picked up by cops.
Left leaning political parties and student organisations in impromptu reaction condemned the police attack and asked the government to scrap the Rampal power plant.
The national committee will hold countrywide demonstrations on Saturday protesting at the police attack, its member secretary Anu Muhmmad said at a briefing Communist Party of Bangladesh office.
The march began from the National Press Club at about 11:30am and was stopped by law enforcers near Paribagh at about 12:15pm.
Police put barricade and fired tear gas shells and charged baton to disperse the marchers, said witnesses.
Shahbagh police officer-in-charge Abu Bakar Siddique said they detained four people.
Addressing a pre-march rally at press club, Anu Muhammad said they would hand over an ‘open letter’ to prime minister Sheikh Hasina for scraping the proposed Ramapal Thermal Power Plant as it would destroy the largest mangrove forest of the world.
He urged the prime minister to take personal initiatives to stop the power plant project.
The people of the country would not allow the destruction of the Sunderbans, Anu said.
He also demanded referendum to take the public opinion on the issue.
Committee convenor Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah said the people would not accept the destruction of the Sunderbans.
The committee is protesting against the Rampal power plant for at least two years, and the government, ignoring protests from green activists and political parties, has inked an agreement with India to build the coal-fired plant.
Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company on July 13 signed a $1.49 billion contract with an Indian company to construct a coal-fired power plant.
Under the contract, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited will construct a 1,320MW power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat by 2019.
Activists said the power project would spell disaster on the Sundarbans that shields Bangladesh from cyclones and tidal surges.
The air of the project area would be polluted as huge coal would be burned in the power plant, Anu said.
He also called on prime minister to shift the venue of the power plant.
Leaders of the committee, Dhaka University teachers Muhammad Tanzimuddin Khan, Moshahida Sultana, engineer Kollol Mostafa, left politicians Tipu Biswas, Khalequzzaman,  Ruhin Hossain Prince, Saiful Huq,  Zonayed Saki, Mushrefa Mishu, Bazlur Rashid Firoz, Mosharraf Hossain Nannu, Manas Nandi, Quamrul Ahsan, Jahangir Alam Fazlu, Khan Asaduzzaman Masum, Samsul Alam, Subal Sarker and others attended the programme.
Several hundred leaders and activists of the national committee took part at the programme with banners, festoons and play cards.
CPB Dhaka city unit and left leaning Pragatashil Chhatra Jote held separate protest rallies at Paltan and Dhaka University protesting police attack on the march.
Democratic Left alliance and Socialist Party of Bangladesh condemned the police attack.

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