The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Electricity and Port yesterday called on the government not to allow open pit coal mining in Phulbari, saying that it would lead to environmental disasters in the area. Such a project would lead to the eviction of 4.7 lakh people from four upazilas and cause the groundwater level to go further down, the committee leaders said at a press conference at Dinajpur Press Club. The government should also review the draft coal policy and maintain neutrality regarding the Phulbari coalmine issue, they added. The leaders said that according to the proposal of the Asia Energy, it would extract coal for 30 years through open pit method and export two-thirds of coal. Extraction of coal through open pit mining would cause massive damage to agriculture and the environment and threaten the livelihoods of local people, they said. The leaders also said any agreements on open pit mining would go against the interest of the country. Prof Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the committee, said the open pit method would cause more damage to ecology than the extent of economic benefit from the coalmine if the draft coal policy is not reviewed. Open pit method is not suitable for densely populated countries like Bangladesh, he added. Dr Sheikh Mohammad Shahidullah and Prof Samsul Alam also spoke at the press conference.