The proposed imported coal-fired power plant in Banshkhali of Chittagong is set to become the biggest private sector investment in the country’s power sector. A joint venture of Bangladesh’s S Alam Group, and China’s SEPCO-3 Electric Power Constitution Corporation and HTG Group will build the thermal power plant with a net capacity of 1,224MW at a cost of $2.4bn. But as reported in the Dhaka Times on 13 May 2016, the Gondamara union (ward) in Chittagong’s Banshkhali has become a prison as the police continue to lay siege and cordon off the area. “The [Banshkhali power plant] project started with fraud, falsity and criminal activities against the Banshkhali people, while the local conglomerate S Alam group started grabbing 1,700 acres of government khash (public) land in the name of the project,” said Prof. Anu Muhammad, secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports. “Bangladesh is getting sliced to fulfil the interests of other countries. India is in Rampal (another coal power station) to create its strategic power, while Russia is in Rooppur nuclear power plant, USA is capturing the Bay of Bengal and now China is in Banshkhali coal-based power plant in the name of creating a special economic zone in Bangladesh.” He added that the electricity crisis cannot be solved with destructive projects like Banshkhali and Rampal coal-based power plants, and Rooppur nuclear power plant project. Panic has gripped the locals of Gondamara union in Banshkhali upazila as police continued to raid the area in May 2016. Locals claimed that the raids were being conducted to foil their movement against the move to install a coal-fired power plant there. Police, however, claimed that they were conducting the drives to arrest the accused in different cases and recover illegal arms in the upazila. Police checkpoints were being set up at Time Bazar in Shil Kup, Harun Bazar in Saral and Bangla Bazar in Chambal, virtually confining the villagers, they claimed. Other than children and very elderly people, most male members in the area are now on the run fearing arrest after the events of 4th April 2016. “No one is paying heed to our problems. What is going on in the union? They [police] have turned the whole union into a jail. Now, no one can go outside the union,” claimed Abu Ahmed, a close aide of Liakat Ali, convener of the Committee to Protect Habitations and Graveyards (Daily Star, 19 May 2016). Fear of environment pollution and other hazards, if the power plant was installed, prompted the people of Gondamara area of Banshkhali to go for agitation. The locals alleged that some people in favour of S Alam Group forced them to sell their land to the group. Mosharraf Hossain, an Imam of a mosque in Chittagong city and resident of Gondamara, said that there were several hundred homesteads in the area where S Alam Group was trying to set up the coal-fired power plant. ‘We will not be able to live there if the power plant is set up. Our household, arable land and salt processing fields would be damaged due to the pollution if the plant was set up,’ said Mosharraf. Meanwhile, Hanif, an honours student of Chittagong College and resident of the village, said S Alam Group engaged some paid brokers to grab local people’s land. The brokers forced local people to sell their land at lower price. They threatened us when we did not agree to sell our land,’ said Hanif. (New Age, 6 April 2016). The Land Office gave its clearance to S Alam Group to buy 3,000 acres of land, terming the acquired land as “barren land”; this is a baseless claim, the land is used for rice farming and for salt production. Protesters follow the lead of the "Committee to protect habitation and graveyards", implying that some of the land is sacred.