Scrap power plants project near Sunderbans: environmentalists

Staff Correspondent
National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans and Waterkeepers Bangladesh hold a discussion on ‘Coal energy in Bangladesh: Impact on Water and Climate’ at BRAC Centre in Dhaka on Sunday. — New Age photo

National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans and Waterkeepers Bangladesh hold a discussion on ‘Coal energy in Bangladesh: Impact on Water and Climate’ at BRAC Centre in Dhaka on Sunday. — New Age photo

Environmentalists on Sunday urged all financial institutions and potential equity investors not to involve in arranging or providing finance for Rampal coal-fired power plant as it would harm eco-system of the Sunderbans.
‘The large coal-fired power plants near the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sunderbans,  will significantly harm the unique eco-systems, along with water, air, people and climate,’ said a declaration of a conference.
Environmentalists at the closing session of a two-day conference adopted the declaration with a call to abandon Rampal coal-fired power plant project and Orion power plant.
The conference jointly organised by Waterkeepers Bangladesh, National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans and Waterkeeper Alliance on ‘Coal Energy in Bangladesh : Impact on Water and Climate’ was held at a city hotel.
Environmentalists said that for any category of power plants, adequate public hearings, transparent approaches for site selection, financing, business agreement, land acquisition and asset evaluation must be ensured in the country.
Buriganga Riverkeepers’ coordinator Sharif Jamil read out the declaration paper.
He said that without finalising the coal policy, Bangladesh has proposed a number of coal-fired power plants including Rampal Power plant and Orion Power plant. Both are located near the Sunderbans, the UNESCO declared World Heritage Site.
Sharif said that the power plants were being developed without proper public hearings, and independent and science-based social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA).
He said that coal exploration procedure in the densely populated and biodiversity enriched Bangladesh would severely impact on both surface and ground water, potentials for landslides, degradation of flora, fauna and involve huge human eviction.
Former adviser to the interim government, Sultana Kamal said that unity is important to stand against the coal-fired power plant projects which are being developed at Rampal, near the Sunderbans.
She urged all financial institutions and potential equity investors to make a clear public commitment to rule out any involvement in arranging or providing finance for the Rampal coal-fired power plant.
National Committee to protect oil, gas and mineral resources, power and ports member secretary Anu Mohammad said that the Sunderbans would be severely affected if the two power plants are developed in Rampal.
He said that the local administration is evicting a good number of people and forcing them and threatening them to sell their homeland for the power plant.
Anu Mohammad urged people to get united to resist the Rampal power plant project and Orion power plant to protect the world’s lone mangrove forest, the Sunderbans.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon president professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Waterkeeper Alliance member secretary Donna Lisenby, National Committee to protect oil, gas and mineral resources, power and port member Ruhin Hossain Prince, Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association executive director Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir and BAPA secretary general Md Abdul Matin, among others, also spoke at the conference.

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