Hasina rules out new airport ‘against people’s will’

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

DHAKA - Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday said her government will not push for building a new international airport at a location about 40 km from here, after protests that turned violent this week.

There will be no airport in Arial Beel “against the will of the people”, she said at her cabinet meeting, in a reversal of her government’s earlier decision.

A policeman had died and over a hundred people, including some journalists, were injured Monday in the clashes at Arial Beel in Munshiganj.

Police booked over 3,000 protesters and resorted to large-scale arrests to quell the protests, media reports said.

The issue also turned into a political confrontation with a case filed Tuesday against opposition leader and former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

Zia was accused of inciting violence at a meeting in Dhaka where she attacked the government for re-locating the project from Trisha to Arial Beel.

The re-location had been decided without a pre-feasibility study because of the “whims” of some officials, the Daily Star said.

It quoted aviation experts as saying that upgrading of the Shahjalal International airport, the name by which the airport at Dhaka is known, could meet the demand for the next 25 years.

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