Affected people start fast unto death

The land subsidence affected people around Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd (BCMCL) have switched to fast unto death programme as their demand for full payment of the compensation money remained unmet at the end of their three-day hunger strike yesterday.

Six people, fallen sick during the programme, have also continued their fast to press for the demand.

The six — Akramul Haque, 60, of Patigram, Babu Hossain, 60, of Jigagari, Abdul Bari, 50, of Badyanathpur, Abdul Mazid, 70, of Pashpukur, Mizanur, 40, of Sibkrishnapur and Abdul Wahab, 70, of Baidyanathpur village, are being given intravenous saline.

Dinajpur district administration yesterday agreed to pay a part of the compensation package, but the villagers insisted on their demand for its full disbursement, sources said.

“We want 100 per cent payment of the compensation package without any harassment,” said Akramul Haque lying on paddy straw in front of BCMCL entrance.

The affected villagers started their three-day hunger strike on Monday as per their prior ultimatum issued on December 5 last year.

The ultimatum had urged the deputy commissioner to pay off the compensation money within December 25 last year, but it was not done, said the affected villagers.

The people of 10 villages around Barapukuria started demonstration in 2009 demanding compensation for the land subsidence apparently caused by coal mining in the area.

The land subsidence was first detected in May 2006.

About 627 acres of land in the area gradually subsided, according to the survey conducted by BCMCL officials.

Earlier on March 10 in 2010, the affected people started an indefinite hunger strike.

They discontinued the programme after three days as the ministry concerned gave assurance to meet their demands.

Later in April last year, Tk 190 crore meant for the compensation was deposited to the account of Dinajpur deputy commissioner’s office, following an approval of the Executive Committee for National Economic Council.

But the deputy commissioner’s office so far disbursed only 40 per cent of the money to the affected people.

“We have been cheated. The deputy commissioner’s office is delaying the disbursement of the money while land prices in other areas are going up rapidly,” said Md Ibrahim Khalil, convener of Jibon O Shampad Rakkha Committee, an organisation of the affected people.

As of filing this report in the afternoon, several officials of the district administration led by Dinajpur Additional Deputy Commissioner Md Zakir Hossain remained in front of the BCMCL entrance, trying to persuade the aggrieved people to break their fast but the latter declined, saying that the DC did not keep his promises.

When contacted, Dinajpur DC Md Jamal Uddin Ahmed said officials and staffs are relentlessly working to complete payment to the affected people.

A large number of policemen and Rapid Action Battalion members have been posted in the area.

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