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Chevron's Seismic Survey, USAID's Nishorgo Project, the Lawachara National Park of Bangladesh: A Critical Review.

Mohammad Tanzimuddin Khan

CSGR Working Paper 256/08

December 2008


The paper mainly reviews the USAID-funded Nishorgo project which is an environmental project undertaken for the conservation of the officially declared protected areas of Bangladesh. This project is based on a co-management approach having the major features of Public-Private Partnership arrangements. Both state and non-state actors including the local communities are the participants in the project. However, the operation of this project coincides with the business interests of the US-based multinational company- Chevron in the project sites. In fact, it conducted a seismic survey in the Lawachhara forest areas of north-eastern Bangladesh. But the survey raised a public controversy as it violated the municipal laws of the country on wildlife conservation.

This paper takes a Gramscian perspective to review the two different but related MNC and donor projects. In this regard, the first project of seismic survey provides a case study for the analysis of Chevron’s operation in Bangladesh, while the second project reviews USAID sponsored Nishorgo. Based on field works, interviews, and content analysis of local newspapers, this paper finds that both projects appear to have some other purposes which are largely related to the economic interests of the USA. In both cases, members of the local public and private agencies appear to partner with their international cohorts, and neglect the genuine responsibility of conserving the forests, thus further complicating the principles of public-private partnership empirically.

Key words: Public-Private Partnership, co-management approach, Nishorgo project, Chevron, USAID, forestry project, conservation, co-option, historic bloc.

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Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR)

University of Warwick
CV4 7AL Coventry (UK)