Gas exploration in Dhaka’s interest, says Hasina

September 21st, 2009 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 21 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh hasina Monday said awarding of gas exploration contracts to foreign firms was in the country’s interest and “not a sell-out.”
Hasina said gas exploration is necessary to meet the increasing demand of electricity.

“Gas needs to be explored. But I want to assure the people nothing will be done that may harm the interests of the people and our beloved homeland Bangladesh,” Star Online said.

She sought to respond to critics, particularly main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), on her government’s awarding exploration bids to an American and an Irish multinational corporation, while greeting the nation on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr and Durga Puja, the festival of the minority Hindus.

She told newsmen that her government which awarded these contracts last month would “not do anything that might go against the interest of Bangladesh and its people,” United News of Bangladesh (UNB) news agency reported.

“I am the daughter of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who along with most of his family members sacrificed their lives for the country’s interests. I request my people, please don’t be confused by anyone,” she said.

The prime minister said “a vested quarter is trying to create a political issue over the exploration of gas in the offshore of the Bay of Bengal.”

A conglomerate of Left parties and some non-government organisations have staged rallies and had a hartal (strike) last week to oppose the government’s award of contracts.

“If I was in favour of selling out country’s gas resources, my party would have come to power in the past. But, we did not come to power (last time) as we were totally against doing anything against people’s interest,” she said.

Bangladesh’s bid at gas exploration in the Bay of Bengal has been delayed by political uncertainties at home and absence of formalised maritime boundaries with neighbours India and Myanmar.

There have also been conflicting assessments of the availability of the gas. The assessment was low earlier, when Dhaka said it would not export gas since it does not have a surplus.

However, the government last week said it was examining experts’ assessments that indicated greater availability of gas than before.

Hasina called it “good news”.

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