Chittagong, Bangladesh: The national committee to protect oil gas mineral resources port and power started a three-day long march on the Dhaka-Chittagong highway on September 25, demanding cancellation of the deal with US oil company ConocoPhillips, according to the national committee hand out. 

The national committee’s Dhaka-Chittagong road march to press a seven-point demand including scrapping of the deal with ConocoPhillips for exploring gas and oil in the Bay of Bengal when convener of the national committee, Engineer Sheikh Mohammad Shahidullah, inaugurated the three-day road march in front of the city's National Press Club in a brief rally.

The committee's other demands include cancellation of the production-sharing contract (PSC)-2008, enactment of laws banning export of minerals resources, and delegating the national authorities to explore oil and gas.

“During the march, the committee will hold street rallies and grand rallies in Comilla and Chittagong.”

“The long march would be completed after reaching the port city Chittagong today.”

“People took to streets for keeping hold of their ownership over the national resources protesting 'deals of slavery' the government signed with foreign companies.”

The Chittagong University (CU) unit of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power, and Ports brought out a procession from the university railway station on September 26 in support of making the three-day road march successful, reports our CU correspondent.

Speakers from the Chittagong University (CU) unit of the National Committee demanded at a rally that the deal with Conoco Philips is against national interests, and the government should immediately cancel it.

“The deal is going to be a threat not only to the energy security but also to the national security of the country,” Prof Anu Mohammad, member secretary of the committee.

“The national committee members were mounting the movement for the historical necessity and to serve the national interest,” columnist Syed Abul Maksud.

Anu Mahmud, member secretary of the committee, asked the government to scrap all deals signed with foreign companies following the concepts laid down in the so called ‘Model Production Sharing Contract’ prepared by the emergency caretaker regime in 2008.

“The government must to refrain from formulating Model Production Sharing Contract -2011 for extraction of onshore gas with similar anti-national provisions.”

Cultural organization Sanskriti Mancha staged plays at the road side rallies.

“We want the utilization of Bangladesh’s national resources for the benefit of the people,” Farmer Abdul Matin, 70, who attended the rally at Chandina.

“Allowing export of gas as contrary to national interests,” according to tea stall owner Abu Taleb from Sonargaon Bus Stand.

Communist of Bangladesh Party President Manzurul Ahsan Khan and General Secretary Mujahidul Islam Selim, President of Workers Party of Bangladesh Rashed Khan Menon and General Secretary Anisur Rahman Mollick, and Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal General Secretary Khalequzzaman, among others, were present at the rally.

On June 16, Bangladesh made its first ever step into exploring gas and oil in the Bay by signing a production-sharing contract (PSC) with US oil company, ConocoPhillips. The company won two deep-sea blocks at an offshore block bidding floated by Petrobangla in 2008. The PSC allows exploration of the undisputed part of the blocks that cover an area of 5,158 square kilometers.