The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports yesterday urged the government to meet people's demand by relocating the power plant from Gondamara union of Banskhali.
Prof Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the platform, made the request at a rally on the premises of Pashchim Gondamara Government Primary School where four protesters were shot dead on April 4.
Villagers of the area have been protesting against installation of a coal-fired power plant and demanding its relocation.
“We denounce the attack on the unarmed and innocent people by police and goons and the murder of innocent people. We have come here to express our solidarity with the people,” said Anu Muhammad after a human chain formed from 12:30pm to 1:00pm.
He blamed the company for the incident and demanded that the victims be compensated by those responsible for the murder.
“We learn that no environment impact assessment was done, no experts' opinion taken and no environment certificate was given for the power plant. Otherwise the reports would have been published. The project is being implemented forcefully without paying heed to people,” he observed.
This plant would leave the same impact on the environment equal to that of 1,500 brick kilns combined, he added.
He also said a neutral investigation team of experts should be formed to study the environmental hazards. Besides, the murders of innocent people should also be investigated by an impartial and trustworthy committee, he added.
Rights activist advocate Sultana Kamal told the rally, “This project is being implemented to satisfy a few by ignoring the public. Development should be for mass people, not for a few benefited ones.”
Liakat Ali, former Union Parishad chairman who is leading the protest, said he is in fear of life both from the law enforcers and hired goons.
Poet, journalist and the committee's Chittagong district convener Abul Momen, Bangladesh Communist Party presidium member Shah Alam, among others, addressed the rally.
The villagers also organised a protest rally in the area around 3:30pm and set a deadline for the government to declare cancellation of the project by 6:00pm on Saturday. Otherwise, they would declare tougher movement, they said.
They also alleged that hired goons of S Alam company seized a CNG-run auto-rickshaw and beat up a boy for campaigning for the protest rally in the morning.
Liakat Ali, also convener of Gondamara house and graveyard protection movement committee, said, “We would lay siege to the Upazila Parishad wearing funeral clothes on Sunday.”
The rally was organised under the banner of Gondamara Union Bachao Andolan to mourn the dead who were killed on April 4. Former Chittagong city mayor Mahmudul Islam Chowdhury was present as the chief guest.
The Jatiya Party leader said, “It is not a political programme of any party but a unanimous demonstration of the locals. I stand by the demonstrators.”
Several thousand villagers including a huge number of women joined the rally. They repeatedly demanded justice for the murder of innocent villagers and relocation of the power plant by chanting slogans.
In a press conference held at Chittagong Press Club at 6:30pm yesterday, Anu Muhammad said many are propagating that BNP-Jamaat men instigated the protest movement.
Terming the propaganda an ill motive to destroy the movement, he said they found people irrespective of all parties had taken part in the movement.
“But the leaders belonging to three parties [ruling Awami League and opposition BNP and Jamaat] are the beneficiaries of the project and have taken stance against the movement,” he added.11