Death, Injury of Workers at SS Power I Plant

Writ petition seeks judicial probe, halt of construction

Another writ petition was filed with the High Court yesterday seeking necessary directives in connection with the incidents of killing and injuring the workers of the SS Power I Plant in Banshkhali upazila of Chattogram since 2016 to April 17 this year.

Five rights organisations collectively submitted the petition as a public interest litigation seeking HC order on the authorities to conduct a judicial inquiry into the incidents of killing and to stop construction of SS Power I Plant, a coal fired power plant, in Banshkhali, till completion of the inquiry.

The petitioner organisations are -- Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela), Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), Nijera Kori, Safety and Rights, and Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD).

In the petition, the organisations sought HC directive on the labour ministry to submit a report on the environment and the protection and safety and security of the workers of the power plant to the court.

They also requested the HC to direct the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Chattogram to submit their inquiry reports on the incidents of killing and injuring workers to this court.

Petitioners' lawyer and chief executive of Bela Syeda Rizwana Hasan told The Daily Star that the five organisations in their petition urged the HC to issue a rule asking authorities concerned to explain why appropriate legal action should not be taken against the people who are responsible for killing and injuring the workers.

Rizwana Hasan said a total of 12 workers were killed and several were injured in different incidents at the power plant in Banshkhali in 2016, 2017 and April 17, 2021.

The HC has been requested to ask the authorities to show causes why they should not be directed to pay compensation to the families of the victims of police firing and why the agreement concerned for constructing the SS Power I Plant in Banshkhali should not be cancelled as there is no need for this power plant, Rizwana Hasan said.

The lawyer said the HC may hold hearing simultaneously on both the writ petitions over the incident of killing and injuring workers at the power plant, as Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) filed another writ petition with this court earlier in connection with the April 17 incident in Banshkhali.

ASK filed a writ petition on April 21seeking its directive on the authorities concerned to conduct a judicial inquiry into incident of killing and injuring the workers of the SS Power I Plant.

In the petition, ASK requested the HC to order authorities to take appropriate legal action against those involved in killing and injuring the workers and to give Tk 3 crore in compensation to the family of each of the workers who were killed, and to give Tk 2 core in compensation to family of each of the workers who were injured in the clash with police.

Five workers of the SS Power I Plant -- an under-construction coal-fired power plant -- were killed and at least 21 others injured during a clash with police in Banshkhali at morning on April 17.

The workers alleged that law enforcers opened fire on their peaceful demonstration demanding arrears and pay hikes. They said they were supposed to get arrears of one to three months.


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