A Chinese national was killed and six others were injured in sporadic clashes at China-Bangladesh 1320MW thermal power plant project site at Payra in Patuakhali early Wednesday.
The clash was ensued following the death of a Bangladeshi worker inside the project area on Tuesday.
State minister for power and energy Nasrul Hamid Bipu after visiting the project area and holding meeting with project officials, representatives of both Bangladeshi and Chinese workers and district administration told New Age that the situation became normal.
Patuakhali deputy commissioner Matiul Islam Chowdhury said Wednesday evening that they held series of meetings with workers from both Bangladesh and China and their employers at Dhankhali of Kalapara upazila to bring then in harmony with each other.
‘Both of them are now seemed positive,’ he said, adding that since property were vandalised inside the project site, it would take two or three days to return workers to their work.
He said that eight platoons of Border Guard Bangladesh personnel were deployed in addition to 850 cops in and around the project area.
The district administration initiated an inquiry alongside investigations initiated by the police and the project management of the 1,320MW coal-fired Payra power plant.
Chinese electrician Zang Yoaging, 26, was declared death at Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital in Barishal at about 3:30am, two hours after his admission to the hospital. The body was handed over to the project management following an application by the project authority.
Police officials said that the post-mortem examination of deceased Bangladeshi worker Sabindra Das, 32, of Nabiganj upazila in Habiganj, who died Tuesday afternoon, was done.
Police investigators and intelligence officials said that Sabindra was working inside the project as a plumber and fell down during his work and died instantly.
Police and power plant officials said that the clashes ensued following the death of Sabindra Tuesday afternoon when he fell down from an under-construction installation of about 70 feet height
‘As Bangladesh workers were shocked by the death of Sabindra, they saw a Chinese supervisor to take the identity card from the body and torn it. It sparked protests as a rumour spread among the Bangladeshi workers that the body would be concealed,’ a senior police official said.
The official said, ‘Following the incident, Bangladeshi and Chinese workers chased each other and locked in sporadic clashes leaving seven people injured.’
The workers damaged property, including of their office, canteen and training centre inside the project site.
Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited administrative officer Shah Alam Ziko said that the Bangladeshi workers also confined employees and staff of the company and Chinese workers to the project site for eight hours from 3:00pm on Tuesday.
On information at about 7:00pm on Tuesday, Rapid Action Battalion, local police and additional force from the district headquarters rushed to the spot and took the injured workers to hospitals.
Kalapara police station officer-in-charge Monirul Islam said that the police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control.
According to the district Special Branch of police in Patuakhali, over 2,700 Chinese workers and engineers were currently working at the project while about 40 private companies outsourced 4,500 Bangladeshi workers and 3,000 other workers were employed from the neighbourhood.
A Special Branch official said that they had informed the government on few occasions that there was commotion among Bangladeshi workers inside the project site over ‘poor accommodation and food’ and that fuelled the protests.
Nasrul Hamid told New Age that it was a ‘misunderstanding’ between Bangladeshi and Chinese workers following the death of a Bangladeshi worker and the situation became normal.
The state minister also denied the allegation of poor accommodation and food in the 12 billion dollar project.
The incident took place just three weeks before prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to China.
New Age correspondent in Barishal reported that five injured Chinese workers were sent to Dhaka and two Bangladeshi workers were under treatment at Barishal Sher-e-Bangla Medical College Hospital.
All the injured—six Chinese and two Bangladeshis—were admitted to the hospital at 1:30am on Wednesday, said Mahbubur Rahman, an on-duty doctor at the hospital.
The hospital director Bakir Hossain said that two hours later the Chinese national was declared dead.
Patuakhali deputy commissioner Matiul Islam Chowdhury said that action would be taken after inquiry.
As of May, the authorities said that 79.66 per cent of physical work was completed at Payra power plant project being implemented by the Bangladesh-China Power Company Limited, a joint venture of China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation and Bangladesh’s North-West Power Generation Company Limited.
The power plant’s first unit would start generation in December 2019 and the second unit in June 2020.
On Sunday, Bangladesh-China Power Company signed a deal with an Indonesian firm at a Dhaka hotel to import coal from the Southeast Asian country for the 1,320MW Payra power plant.
About 65 per cent of Bangladesh’s electricity is generated from gas whereas 1.34 per cent comes from coal, according to the Bangladesh Economic Review 2019.
In March 2016, Bangladesh signed an engineering, procurement and construction contract with the consortium of two Chinese firms for the installation of the power plant.
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