Imported Indian coal causes pollution in Bangladesh: report

February 17th, 2008 - 5:20 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, Feb 17 (IANS) Coal imported from India is sulphur-rich, well beyond the level prescribed by the Bangladesh government, and causes pollution, a newspaper report said Sunday. Fearing coal shortage, the government has waived its own restrictions eight times in the last decade, facilitating import of “sub-standard” coal from Meghalaya in India’s northeast.

The last waiver decided by a recent inter-ministerial meeting of the commerce ministry allows imports till June this year.

The Indian coal is found to contain one percent sulphur, The Daily Star newspaper said, quoting unnamed official sources and experts.

The government waiver gives Indian coal exporters, mostly from Meghalaya, “a commanding lead over other coal producers across the globe. As a result, the country is being flooded with the cheap and environmentally hazardous Indian coal, observed industry experts”, the newspaper said.

Brick manufacturing and steel re-rolling plants in the country use around seven million tonnes of coal annually, said industry sources.

Maizuddin Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Brick Manufacturing Owners’ Association, said the coal market in the country is heavily dependent on India.

Bangladeshi coal importers attempted to import coal from Australia and Indonesia in 1995 when Indian coal producers reacted with a significant price cut, luring the importers to continue importing from India, he said. “None of the importers imported coal from other countries ever since.”

The experts said even though the country has the potential to meet internal demands from several coalmines including Barapukuria coal mine, the policy makers of the country are not putting the emphasis on increasing production capacity at these coalmines.

A high official at the commerce ministry said, “As a matter of fact, the government is in a precarious position in meeting the local demand of coal. The businesses should explore alternative import sources.”

The government is caught in a dilemma-if it enforces the import restriction, there will be a coal shortage in the country, compelling the brick manufacturers burn trees at their kilns, he said adding that if it lifts the restriction permanently, the environment of the country will be harmed.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Environment |