POST TIME: 30 December, 2017 11:36:26 PM
Panel wants open talk with govt on Rampal
Staff Reporter

Panel wants open talk with govt on Rampal

The National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS) wants an open debate on the Rampal power plant with the government. But it has not received a positive response from the state yet. Sultana Kamal, the convener of the committee, made this allegation at a press conference on Saturday. Earlier, the government had told the committee to present an argument on the negatives of the Rampal power plant. On August 13, the committee presented such evidence, including 13 research studies, to the government. But so far, there has been no proposal from the government to discuss the matter.

In all, 320 industries have been approved in the Sundarbans, but the UNESCO rules say that no industry can be set up without conducting a strategic environmental assessment (SEA). But the government has ignored the SEA and approved the project.

The committee has highlighted the damage done by the Farakka barrage, deforestation, the increase in salinity, the decrease in the number of the Bengal tigers and deer. The committee has also expressed concern over the Posur river erosion in recent times.

The committee has made five demands regarding the Rampal power plant:

1. All construction work related to the power project should be stopped

2. Steps have to be taken following the 13 research papers and the UNESCO proposal

3. The government has to inform within three weeks if there is any difference with the papers

4. The 320 structures have to be removed from the surrounding areas

5. All irregularities in the Sundarbans have to be stopped.

Sultana Kamal said: “We do not want the government to take any wrong steps on the Rampal power plant. We want to cooperate with the government, but it wants to build a power plant there by ignoring UNESCO rules.”

In July, a UNESCO report stated that if the Rampal coal-fired power project was built, the environment of the Sundarbans would be affected. Air and water pollution will increase, and sweet water will be reduced.

But the government took all decisions solely on the basis of political considerations, which is why a coal-based power plant is being built in the Sundarbans, she alleged.

Relying to a question, Sultana Kamal said: “When the UNESCO acknowledged the March 7 Speech of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a World Documentary Heritage we become very happy with that. But diametrically when the same UNESCO suggested the govt not to proceed with Rampal Power Plant unless it considers the decisions of the 41st UNESCO’s World Heritage meeting on Sundarbans it became unhappy.”

Prof. Badrul Alam of the department of geology, Dhaka University, said: “We want an open discussion with the government… If the Rampal power plant is built, the Sundarbans will be damaged.” He added that the four 1,320-MW power plants in Paira will also damage the environment.

Dr Nazrul Islam of the Bangladesh Environmental Network said expatriate Bangladeshis have already protested against the project. “While India and China have moved away from coal, we are becoming more coal-dependent. Now, the cost of solar power has decreased. So, we should move away from coal and adopt other means,” he added.