The global network for protection of environment -- expresses deep concern at the death of four people and injury of many at Gondamara Union of Bashkhali upazilla of Chittagong, caused by police shootings. Apparently, police waded in a conflict between groups supporting and opposing construction of the proposed large, coal-fired electricity generation plant, and -- according to the police claim -- had to fire back when they were fired upon first by those opposing the power plant. The daily "Shamokal" reports on political motivation of some of the people organizing and leading the group opposing the plant.
To what extent the above claims and reports are true is still not known. A fuller investigation may reveal the truth. However, the fact remains that four people, belonging to the group opposed to the plant, have died from police fire. This clearly raises questions about police conduct and government's policy about how to deal with public protests.
That there may be opposition from some of the local people to a coal-fired power plant should not be surprising. First of all, whether setting up coal-fired plants is the best option for meeting rising demand for electricity is a matter of debate. Second, even if the decision is made in favor of coal-fired power plants, securing consent of the local people is a sine qua non for their construction. The only way to secure the consent is through dialogue and discussion. Opening fire and killing of people by police is just the opposite of what is necessary.
BEN expresses condolences to the families of the victims, and demands proper investigation into the incident and meting out punishment to those who are responsible for the use of the deadly force. BEN hopes that the government will offer appropriate compensation to the families of the victims.
BEN urges the government to review the energy options -- including renewable ones, such as solar and wind -- and re-examine its decisions regarding coal-fired power plants more carefully.
It also urges the government to enter into dialogue and discussion with the local people and not to resort to force over the issue of construction of power plants.