The government is using force on the protesters because it has run out of reasons to advance the Rampal power plant project, protest leader Prof Anu Muhammad said yesterday.
The member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port made the observation while addressing a gathering of the committee's district representatives from across Chittagong division, in the port city.
The Rampal site is only 14km away from the Sundarbans and is deemed destructive to the forest because of the emissions from the coal-fired power plant.
Prof Anu said, “We have presented data and facts [about the demerits of the plant] to the government, while the government responded with intolerance.
"We sent an open letter to the Bangladesh prime minister. A peaceful procession was organised for that. But in that procession, sticks and bullets were used and many were injured. Still we sent the letter to the prime minister. But we are yet to get any reply.”
In August, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina organised a press conference and said many things "which do not have any relation with the truth", he said. "For example, she compared charcoal with mineral coal..... The experts whose reference she was using... were not able to make her understand the difference between charcoal and mineral coal."
"Then she made scathing remarks about our protest -- where do we get money from? We gave the answer. The government has the experience to work by spending money. Money could make advertisements, money could buy experts, and money could buy or be used to gag the media. But the spontaneous tide of people could not be bought by money. And where there is a spontaneous tide of people, money is not necessary."
The campaigner said now television advertisements were being broadcast in favour of the Rampal project; these ads were a sign of the government's weakness.
Anu Muhammad declared two programmes -- a march named "Cholo Cholo Dhaka Cholo" (let's go to Dhaka) on November 24 from different districts and a grand rally on November 26 against the Rampal project.
Poet Abul Momen, Chittagong city convener of the committee, presided over the meeting.