In the Phulbari area of Northwest Bangladesh, communities have come together to raise their voices against the proposed Phulbari Coal Project--which threatens to turn this fertile agricultural region into an open-pit coal mine. If implemented, the mine would have devastating environmental impacts and ultimately displace up to 220,000 people.
Breaking News & Campaign Highlights
January 29, 2013: At the request of the District Commissioner and local police, GCM Resources' CEO Gary Lye is forced to cancel his plans to visit Phulbari and distribute blankets due to resistance from Phulbari's residents, who mounted day-long protests against his visit, and an increasingly tense situation throughout the districts generated by GCM's intensified efforts to force the Phulbari Coal Project forward ...>>>more>>>
November 29, 2012: Dr. Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister, says decision on controversial open-pit method is "unlikely" under the tenure of the current administration, due to the need for further study of water impacts...more>>>
November 27 & 28, 2012: "The people have not forgotten
about the Phulbari killing, uprising, the Phulbari Agreement or the
commitment made by different governments. These are all living memory
for us. [...] Therefore, the people's resistance is again growing to
confront the global alliance hungry for Bangladesh coal," writes Prof.
Anu Muhammad in this two-part article: Part 1 & Part II.
November 27, 2012: Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister says GCM has not been been awarded a contract for extracting coal at Phulbari and merely holds an exploration license...more>>>
November 25, 2012: Further protest postponed until 31st December after Deputy Commissioner pledges to consult with "high-ups of the government" to resolve the crisis...more>>>
November 25, 2012: Two-day general strike is lifted after district official reportedly agrees to withdraw the office of Asia Energy in Phulbari by 31st December and implement the six-point Phulbari agreement calling for the permanent expulsion of the company and a ban on open-pit mining...more>>>
November 25, 2012: Local administration and police in talks with protesters, as thousands of locals gather outside the meeting place on the second day of a general strike that has shut businesses and emptied roads...more>>>
November 24, 2012: Protesters rally in Phulbari, roads blockaded, and schools and businesses are closed. The general strike will continue tomorrow, according to announcements by the Municipality Mayor, the Phulbari Combined Bazaar Trader's Association and the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, who are demanding that the government withdraw all agreements for open-pit mining...more>>>
November 24, 2012: Phulbari is quiet, with empty roads and shuttered shops as dawn-to-dusk general strike called for by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports is underway...more.>>>
November 24, 2012: Several thousand people break through police barricades and take to the streets in Phulbari to defy government ban on public gatherings. The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports calls for indefinite general strike until the government withdraws order calling for cooperation with Asia Energy and implements six-point 2006 agreement that bans open-pit mining in Bangladesh and calls for Asia Energy to be expelled from the country...more>>>
November 24, 2012: Tensions grow with roughly 500 police deployed to Phulbari and calls for indefinite strikes and blockades in the district. Police reportedly preparing to file a case against people who violated the Section 144 ban on public gatherings of more than four people...more>>>
November 23, 2012: Around 300 police, Rapid Action Battalion, and Border Guard Bangladesh members are reportedly deployed to Phulbari. Professor Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and
Ports announces a daylong general strike for 24
November to protest the government's imposition of the Section 144 ban on public gatherings in Phulbari...more>>>
November 23, 2012: Thousands of people brave police barricades to demonstrate in Phulbari, defying government ban on public gatherings, and the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports announces a daylong general strike in Phulbari for Saturday, 24 November
November 23, 2012: Government imposes Section 144 banning gatherings of more than four people indefinitely in effort to avert planned demonstration in Phulbari demanding a ban on open-pit mining and withdrawal of Home Ministry order calling for cooperation with Asia Energy...more>>>
November 13, 2012: Thousands of people march in Phulbari demanding withdrawal of an order from the Home Ministry instructing local administrations & law enforcement agencies to assist Asia Energy, GCM's subsidiary, to conduct surveys of coal deposits in Phulbari...more>>>
November 13, 2012: US Ambassador to Bangladesh Dan W. Mozena visits Barapukuria Coal Mine and urges Bangladesh to ensure maximum use of its natural resources including coal and gas...more>>>
November 10, 2012: Authorities issue directives to police and local administrations instructing them to give security to GCM's staff & property ...more>>>
November 9, 2012: National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports calls on government to ban open-pit mining & implement agreement to expel GCM from Bangladesh. Promises tougher action if government fails to act by 28 November...more>>>
August 26, 2012: Thousands of people join Phulbari Day rally commemorating the three people who were shot dead and hundreds injured on this day in 2006, when paramilitary troops on fired on some 70,000 people protesting the open-pit mine in Phulbari. Leaders of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and
Ports announced plans for tougher action if the government fails to implement by 31 December the six-point Phulbari agreement, which includes a national ban on open-pit mining and the expulsion of Asia Energy, GCM's subsidiary, from Bangladesh...more>>>
May 10, 2012: Global Coal Management Resources (GCM), the London-based company backing the Phulbari Coal project, redoubles its efforts to force the project forward, despite call by the UN for an immediate halt to the project. Activist groups fear renewed violence, as new propaganda leaflets & posters are distributed to sow confusion and mistrust within threatened communities...more>>>
May 7, 2012: Police attack and beat demonstrators calling on the government of Bangladesh to halt the Phulbari Coal Mine and pursue renewable energy, injuring 15 people...more>>>
February 29, 2012: Seven United Nation's Experts issue press release
calling for a halt to the Phulbari Coal Project, warning that it
threatens fundamental human rights...more>>>
Read IAP's Phulbari Fact Sheet
View IAP's Phulbari Slideshow
Read IAP's Analysis of the Indigenous People's Development Plan for the Phulbari project
The Phulbari mining is now at a critical juncture. The project was stalled, in the planning
phase, when emergency rule was imposed in Bangladesh in January 2007.
However, following national
elections in December 2008, a new administration is actively
reconsidering open pit mining of the nation's coal and the Phulbari
project's financier, Global Coal Management Resources plc (GCM), has
resumed aggressive efforts to push the project forward.
Phulbari mining project involves an open-pit coal mine in northwest
Bangladesh and the construction of at least one 500-MW power plant. At
peak production, about eight million tons of coal would be transported
by rail and barges to an offshore reloading facility located in Akram
Point. An additional four million tons would be exported to India via
railway, and the remaining three million tons would be used for domestic
energy consumption ...more >>
Human rights: The grassroots resistance responding to the Phulbari project has been
met with egregious consequences. In August 2006, the Bangladesh Rifles,
a paramilitary force, opened fire on the 50,000 local people who were
conducting a peaceful protest in Phulbari. Three people were killed,
including a 14-year old boy, and as many as 200 people were wounded. Local
communities, national Bangladeshi NGOs, and international advocacy
organizations have taken up the call, “Ban Open Pit Mining in Phulbari!”
The Phulbari coal mine would destroy 14,660 acres (around 23 sq. miles)
of land, 80 percent of which is fertile farmland. It would physically
displace as many as 220,000 people, mostly farming and indigenous
households. This uprooting and resettlement of entire villages is being
planned in one of the world's most densely populated countries. Project
plans clearly state that the agricultural land and other vital resources that affected households rely on would not be replaced and "most households will become landless."
In short, the lives and
livelihoods of tens of thousands of people would be irrevocably
disrupted by a mining operation that would transform productive farmers
into landless people with no clear prospects for other livelihoods or
Food and Water Security: The loss of Phulbari's
agricultural lands undermines efforts to overcome hunger in a nation in
which nearly half of all people do not have enough food to eat (exist
below the nutrition poverty line). Phulbari is a fertile and vital
food-growing region that produces between two and four crops per year
including rice, the staple crop. The project would also reduce
water supplies for roughly 220,000 people by lowering the water table
throughout a vast region extending six miles beyond the mine's footprint.
warn that the Phulbari project risks acid mine contamination of soil
and water. With coal accounting for roughly 20% of the world's
greenhouse gases, carbon emissions from the project pose a threat to
economically poor countries, like Bangladesh, that lack the systems to
adequately adapt to increases in flooding and violent storms resulting
from global warming. The project threatens the Sundarbans - a
UNESCO-protected wetlands habitat that is one of the largest mangrove
forests in the world and a life-saving buffer against cyclones and
flooding. Project design calls for eight million metric tons of coal to
be exported by rail and barges through the Sundarbans. Four million
metric tons would be transported to India through the rail network. This
international transport is planned despite provisions in the
Bangladeshi mining law that prohibit the export of coal.
In September of 2011, IAP submitted an urgent appeal to the United Nations, requesting immediate action to avert further human rights violations associated with the Phulbari Coal Project and ensure that the government of Bangladesh uphold its human rights obligations in all decisions and processes related to the mine. Working
with an international coalition, IAP is raising awareness with
financial institutions involved in the project around the risks to
people and the environment. IAP carried out a close analysis of the
draft Resettlement Plan developed by the project sponsor, Global Coal
Management Resources Plc. (CGM) and it's wholly owned subsidiary, Asia
Energy Corporation. This analysis, along with letters, articles and
other reports about the project, was delivered to GCM, the Asian
Development Bank, and private banks holding or managing shares in GCM.
IAP's analysis was published Bangladesh in 2010, along with an analysis
by mining expert, Roger Moody. See Books & Reports below.
- December 29, 2011: Police in riot gear attack demonstrators calling for cancellation of the Phulbari Coal Project, injuring at least 35 people. See news coverage under Selected media releases and articles below.
- December 15, 2011: Shareholder activism at GCM's annual general meeting in London. International Accountability Project joins forces with London Mining
Network and Phulbari Solidarity Group to pose some hard-hitting
questions about violence, deaths, and other human rights violations associated with the Phulbari project to GCM's board. Read the report here.
- December 15, 2011: Bangladeshi activists in London unite in protest outside GCM's AGM, demanding that the UK-based company be "evicted" from Bangladesh and calling upon their Prime Minister to defend human rights by rejecting the Phulbari project and banning open pit mining. Read the Morning Star news article on the demonstration organized by the UK Branch of Bangladesh's National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Natural Resources, Power, and Ports here.
- December 12, 2011: "The Phulbari Coal Project: Risks, Impacts, and Resistance," Seminar at Amnesty International UK, The Human Rights Action Centre, London ...more>>>
- November 3, 2011: 85 civil society organizations worldwide sign onto letter calling on GCM investors to disinvest and halt all support for the Phulbari Coal Project. Read the letter here.
- September 22, 2011: IAP submits urgent appeal to the United Nations on behalf of human rights defenders in Bangladesh. Read the letter here.
- May 18, 2011: Experts warn that a proposed coal-fired power plant
at Rampal may destroy the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest
mangrove forests, an UNESCO-protected World Heritage Site that provides
habitat to many endangered species including the Bengal Tiger, and
Bangladesh's only protection against tropical storms ...more>>>
- May 17, 2011: Bangladesh's State minister for Land,
Mostafizur Rahman Bhuiyan, argues that environmental concerns should not
delay formulation of the nation's new coal policy: "Environment hazards
like explosions in gas well in Sylhet did not come in the way of
development of gas sector" the minister stated. "Similarly,
environmental issues should not be an obstacle to formulation of coal
- May 5, 2011: IAP issues Press Release to draw
international attention to violence against people peacefully protesting
open pit coal mines in Phulbari and Barapukuria ...more>>>
- Feb. 28, 2011: Massive Protest Rally in Phulbari as thousands of demonstrators block the region’s major highway to protest against
government plans for open pit coal mining in Phulbari and nearby
Barapukuria and demand compensation for lost crops and the destruction
of their lands ...more>>>
- Feb. 8, 2011: IAP and Cultural Survival joint Press Release announces the launch of a Global Response Phulbari Campaign. Read the release here>
- Jan. 25, 2011: Urgent Action Alert to Save the
Sundarbans & Stop the Phulbari Coal Mine issued by the Mangrove
Action Project (MAP), a global network of over 450 NGOs and 350
scientists. Read the alert here>
- Dec. 21, 2010: WikiLeaks cable reveals US diplomats
pushed Bangladesh to re-open the Phulbari Coal Projects, to advance US
interests tied to the project. Read the article in the Guardian>
- December 6, 2010: braving threats of physical violence from GCM investors, opponents of the Phulbari project united outside GCM's annual general meeting to protest the company's efforts to protest the company's efforts to establish an immense open- pit coal mine in Bangladesh. View a video of the demonstration here, and read international news coverage below under Selected media releases and articles.
- December 2, 2010: Protect Resources of Banglade announces a blockade of GCM's annual
general meetings in London. The protest action is supported by a broad international coalition ...more>>
- October 24-31, 2010: Bangladesh's Long March. The aim of halting one of the world’s largest open pit coalmines in
Phulbari united tens of thousands of people in Bangladesh, who joined a
250 mile march spanning seven days during the last week of October,
2010. Organizers estimate that as many as 100,000 people joined a
massive rally on the final day of the march ...more >>
Watch the YouTube video on the Phulbari Resistance:
Watch the YouTube video of the Protest at GCM's 2010 AGM in London:
Selected media releases and articles:
Books & Reports
- Phulbari coal, corporate lobbyists and people's resistance: Part 1 and Part 2, Anu Muhammad, New Age, November 27 & 28, 2012.
- UN calls for immediate halt of Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh, Kate Hoshour, Joshua Frank & Justin Guay, Truthout, April 10, 2012.
- Bangladesh open cast mine threatens fundamental human rights, warns UN, Rachel Salmon, Women's Views on News, March 5, 2012.
- Phulbari Coal Project threatens fundamental human rights: UN warns that hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi people will be affected, Kate Hoshour, Bank Information Center, March 2, 2012.
- Move worries global experts, Staff Correspondent, New Age, February 29, 2012.
- Open-pit coal mine in Bangladesh threatens human rights - UN warns, Newsroom America, February 28, 2012.
- Police baton-charge to foil energy ministry siege: Committee to demonstrate countrywide on Jan 2, The Daily Star, December 29, 2011.
- Bangladeshi police breaks energy activist's demo, Saleem Samad, AHN Correspondent, Dhaka, gantdaily.com, December 29, 2011.
- Demo over Bangladeshi Brit-backed mine, Rory MacKinnon, Morning Star, December 15, 2011.
- Down with coal! The grassroots anti-coal movement goes global!, Ted Nace, Grist, May 27, 2011.
- Put pressure for coal: Muhith, Dhaka, BanglaNews24.com, May 17, 2011.
- Displacing people for profit: Obama administration supporting controversial coal project in Bangladesh, Christine Shearer and Joshua Frank, Alternet, April 26, 2011.
- BDP to install six coal fire power plants, Bangladesh Economy: News and Views of the Country's Economy, April 13, 2011.
- Energy at what cost? Protests against forced eviction from US-backed coal mine continue in Bangladesh, Kate Hoshour and Christine Shearer, Truthout, April 8, 2011.
- Bulldozing homes in the name of development, Kate Hoshour and Joanna Levitt, New Age, March 26, 2011.
- Big coal WikiLeaks emergency in Bangladesh: Does Obama support removal of 100,000 villagers?, Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post, March 24, 2011.
- Special: Negotiations on with GCM, Sheikh Shahariar Zaman, bdnews24.com, February 2, 2011.
- Energy adviser's removal demanded: declare US envoy 'persona non grata', Staff Correspondent, Daily Sun, December 31, 2010.
- US Embassy cables: UK trained RAB, Moriarty said controversial paramilitary force could become 'Bangladeshi FBI', Shahiduzzaman, New Age BD, December 23, 2010.
- U.S. pushed to reopen Bangladesh coal mine closed by violent protests, Fariha Karim, The Guardian, December 22, 2010.
- Elahi, Moriarty deal on Phulbari, Staff Correspondent, bdnews24.com, December 22, 2010.
- WikiLeaks cables: US pushed for reopening of Bangladesh coal mine, Fariha Karim, The Guardian, December 21, 2010.
- Massive demo in London in support of Phulbari movement against Asia Energy, Syed Anas Pasha, BanglaNews24.com, December 8, 2010.
- Protesters demand halt to opencast coal mining in Bangladesh, Manny Thain, the Socialist, December 8, 2010.
- Protest in London against move for open-pit mining in Phulbari, Staff Correspondent, The New Age BD, December 7, 2010.
- GCM's share price in decline after demonstration against its AGM in London, Protect Resources of Bangladesh Press Release, December 7, 2010.
- Demonstration outside Global Coal Resources against Phulbari mine, James Melik, Demotix, December 6, 2010.
- The Long March in Bangladesh: Interview with a march organizer, Manny Thain, the Socialist, November 18, 2010.
- Oil-gas committee gears up for 'Long March', Staff Correspondent, New Age National, September 3, 2010.
- Overwhelming thumbs-down given to UK mining project, Mines and Communities, December 15, 2008.
- Global civil society calls for private banks to withdraw support from Bangladesh coal mine, Civil society press release, August 21, 2008.
- Bangladesh: OMCT welcomes the Asian Development Banks's suspension of support for the Phulbari coal mine project, World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Geneva, July 3, 2008.
- ADB postpones funding, Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star, April 5 2008.
- Asian bank scuppers UK mine project in Bangladesh, Nick Mathiason, The Observer, April 6 2008.
- Asian Development Bank pulls out of controversial coal project in Bangladesh, Civil society press release, April 3, 2008. (doc 35 KB)
- Fury at Bangladeshi mine scheme, Nick Mathiason, The Observer, March 9, 2008.
- ADB and the case of the Phulbari Coal Project, Anu Muhammad, Countercurrents, May 19, 2007.
- The mystery death, a town in uproar, and a $1bn UK mines deal, Jamie Doward and Mahtab Halder, The Observer, September 3, 2006.
- Six killed in protests over UK mining firm in Bangladesh, Randeep Ramesh, The Guardian, August 30, 2006.
- Energy kills: Phulbari coal mine of Bangladesh, Indigenous Rights Quarterly, Vol 1 (No. 2-3), July-December, 2006.
- Cancellation of Phulbari coal project demanded, Staff Correspondent, The Daily Star, August 25, 2006.
- A Phulbari Coal Project: Studies on Displacement, Resettlement, Environmental and Social Impact, by Jen Kalafut & Roger Moody, Samhati Publications, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2010.
- 465 km Long March in Bangladesh to say 'NO' to Open pit mining, MNCs and Export of Mineral Resources by Nasrin Siraj Annie, November 1, 2010.
- Multiplying displacement impacts: development as usual in a changing global climate,
by Kate Hoshour. Paper presented at the 15th Annual International
Metropolis Conference in The Hague, Netherlands, October 4-8, 2010.
- Phulbari Coal Project: An Assessment of the Draft Resettlement Plan Prepared by Global Coal Management/Asia Energy Corporation, August 2008. (Acrobat 376 KB) Written by International Accountability Project and commissioned by Bank Information Center.
- Phulbari Coal: a Parlous Project. A critique of the GCM Resources PLC Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and Summary Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for the Phulbari Coal Mine Project in Bangladesh, by Roger Moody. Prepared by Nostromo Research for Bank Information Center, November 2008.
More Actions & Updates
- Global Response program director Paula Palmer is interviewed regarding the Phulbari project on Bob Kincaid's radio program, Head On, March 28, 2011. Listen to the program here.
Survival launches international letter writing Global Response Campaign
on the Phulbari Coal Mine and submits letter to Prime Minister Sheikh
Hasina calling on her to reject the project and ban open-pit mining,
March 2011 ...more>
Action Project launches international campaign and petition to Save the
Sundarbans and Halt the Phulbari Coal Mine Project,January 2011 ... more>
- Civil society organizations respond to GCM statement to U.K. Joint Committee on Human Rights ...more >
- Global civil society letter: Over 100 civil society
organizations call on investors to divest from the Phulbari Coal
Project, with the simultaneous release of a critical report ...more >>
- World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) calls for urgent action to prevent further violence resulting from efforts to force the Phulbari coal mine forward, OCMT, Geneva, July 3, 2008 ...more>>
- Barclays sells its shares in Phulbari mining company: In June 2008, the U.K. based Barclays Bank withdrew financial support from the Phulbari coal project ...more >>
- Barclays is questioned about its involvement in Phulbari:
On April 24, 2008, at the Barclays Bank Annual Meeting in London, IAP
and World Development Movement raised questions to the Barclay's Board of
Directors about the project's adherence to the bank's environmental and
social commitments. Read more about Barclays Bank at banktrack.org.
- ADB financing under question: On April 3, 2008, civil
society groups announced to the media that the ADB has pulled its
financing from the Phulbari coal project. Read the civil society press release. (doc 35 KB)
- World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) issues emergency appeal, Bangladesh: Risk of violent suppression of public opposition to Phulbari coal mine project, OMCT, Geneva, December 21, 2007.
- Letter to United Nation's Special Rapporteurs, September 22, 2011. (Acrobat 464 KB)
- GCM response letter: The company's CEO responds to civil society letter detailing concerns with the Phulbari Coal Project, March 2011.
Letter to Financial Institutions Investing in Global Coal Management
Regarding the Phulbari Coal Project, Bangladesh, August 2008. (Acrobat 136 KB)
- Response Letter from UBS, September 12, 2008. (Acrobat 39.5 KB)
- Response Letter from Credit Suisse, September 16, 2008. (Acrobat 177 KB)
- Response Letter from RBS, October 8, 2008. (Acrobat 32.4 KB)
Civil society websites:
Bank and company websites: