Move to Set up SEZ

Protests go on at Chandpur tea estate

Workers of Chandpur Tea Estate in Chunarughat upazila of Habiganj gather at a rally at the estate yesterday protesting a planned Special Economic Zone on the land they use to grow rice. More photo on page 17. Photo: Star

Workers of Chandpur Tea Estate in Chunarughat upazila of Habiganj yesterday held a rally at the estate, protesting the government move to set up a special economic zone there.

They also observed a two-hour work stoppage for the fourth consecutive day.

Chandpur Bhumi Rakkhya Committee, an organisation of Chandpur tea estate labourers, organised the rally. Members of Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD) and Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) also spoke at the programme.

Speakers at the rally said they would rather die than give up their ancestral land chosen for setting up a special economic zone.

Gita Rani Kanu, president of Bangladesh Cha Sramik Nari Forum, said, “Our predecessors made this land cultivable by cutting hills and forests hundreds of years ago. There is a graveyard of our forefathers. How could we give away the land? We will rather die than leave it.”

Avirot Bakti, convener of Chandpur Bhumi Rakkhya Committee, said, “We get only Tk 69 a day for our job. Even after that we've been living happily because we have land to cultivate and reside in. But there is a conspiracy to grab our ancestral land in the name of setting up a special economic zone.”

Members of Committee to Support for Saving Agricultural Land of Tea Labourers form a human chain in front of the Jatiya Press Club yesterday in support of tea labourers. They were demanding the government abandon plans to take over rice fields at Chandpur Tea Estate in Habiganj to form a Special Economic Zone. Photo: Star

Bazlur Rashid Firoz, central committee member of BSD, urged the government to give the land back to the estate.

Criticising the government move, Joly Talukdar, central member of CPB, called upon the tea garden workers to wage a tough movement to force the government to abandon its plan.