A previous protest against coal power, at Gondamara, coastal Bangladesh (Minhaz / https://www.thethirdpole.net)

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More death and injury mar Chinese-backed coal power station in Bangladesh

3 February 2017 | By GCR Staff | 2 Comments

One person has died and 12 others were injured when a protest against a $2.4bn Chinese-backed coal power plant in Bangladesh turned violent this week.

The casualties occurred 1 February when supporters of the 1,320MW plant at Banshkhali, near Chittagong, clashed with villagers angry over alleged evictions, environmental damage and disturbance to ancestral graves, Reuters reports.

“There is an uneasy situation, and police are patrolling the area to avoid any further clashes,” Alamgir Hussain, an official from the Banshkhali police station, told Reuters.

A leader of the protesting group, Nurul Mostafa, told Reuters that protesters were chanting slogans when project supporters attacked them.

We hope to resolve the problem soon, otherwise we may not be able to finish our project in time– Anonymous source

Violent clashes over the plant, which is being developed by China’s HTG Group and SepcoIII Electric Power Construction Corporation in partnership with the Bangladeshi conglomerate, S. Alam Group, led to four deaths and 30 injuries in April 2016.

At that time S. Alam Group insisted that 200 families living on the 655 acres bought for the plant, due for completion in November 2019, had been paid above market rate for their land in a statement obtained by the London-based advocacy group, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

The violence casts a shadow on Bangladesh’s drive to modernise, which was boosted in October last year by a suite of Chinese assistance deals and infrastructure contracts together worth nearly $40bn.

Apart from the Chittagong plant, China is also backing another 1,320MW coal power station at Payra, in the upazil (sub-district) of Kalapara, in Patuakhali District. This estimated $1.6bn plant is a joint venture of North-West Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited and China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC).

After this week's protest at the Chittagong plant site, an unnamed senior official of S. Alam Group said the protests risked delaying the project.

“We hope to resolve the problem soon, otherwise we may not be able to finish our project in time,” the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Image: A previous protest against coal power, at Gondamara, coastal Bangladesh (Minhaz/https://www.thethirdpole.net)