Rampal power plant : Tougher movement urged to make govt stop project

Staff Correspondent
Nagarik Samaj organises a discussion, protesting against coal-fired power-plant at Rampal adjacent to the Sunderbans, at Mokarram Bhaban on Dhaka University campus on Thursday. — New Age photo

Nagarik Samaj organises a discussion, protesting against coal-fired power-plant at Rampal adjacent to the Sunderbans, at Mokarram Bhaban on Dhaka University campus on Thursday. — New Age photo

Civil society campaigners on Thursday called for a strong movement to prevent the government from constructing coal-fired power plants near Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
‘I call upon all to launch a tougher movement to protect the Sunderbans,’ said Green activist and noted writer Abdullah Abu Sayeed at a citizen dialogue.
The title of the dialogue was ‘Rampal Power Project Based on the Controversial Environmental Impact Assessment Report will destroy the Sunderbans; No Power Plant Destroying Sunderbans; We Want Electricity, We Want Sunderbans’ which was held at the Centre of Excellence in the University of Dhaka.
Abu Sayeed said that the Rampal power project would be the first step to devastate the Sunderbans.
If the project could not be stopped, he said, nothing including the Sunderbans could be protected as the scheme would pave ways to similar destructive projects in future.
Columnist Syed Abul Maksud said it is not possible simultaneously to implement any coal-fired power project and conserve the forest. The government would have to pick one, he said.
Badrul Imam, a professor of Geology Department of DU presented the keynote paper while Professor MM Akash of Economics Department conducted the dialogue.
Badrul Imam said the dialogue was organised to reiterate the stance of the country’s civil society about the controversial 1,320MW Rampal Thermal Power Project, coinciding a visit of a three-member UNESCO team to Bangladesh to assess the impacts of the power plant on the forest.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon general secretary Md Abdul Matin claimed that the government did not cooperate with the visiting UNESCO team to have discussions with the civil society campaigners over the project.
Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company, a 50-50 joint venture of state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation, is implementing the project at Rampal in Bagerhat, some four kilometres off the environmentally critical area of the Sunderbans.
The discussants alleged that the report on the impact of the proposed power plant on environment was flawed and prepared to facilitate the government toward implementing the project.
MM Akash said, ‘We are rejecting the faulty EIA report.’
Badrul Imam, citing a government study said that a 1,320MW coal-fired power plant would raise density of sulfur dioxide in the air of the Sunderbans to 58 micrograms per cubic metre, which is much higher than the danger limit of 30 micrograms.
He also said the coal ash, emission of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, coal transportations through the Sunderbans and potential accidents along the river routes and dredging of the river could bring disaster to the biodiversity of the forest.
Shahidul Islam, a Professor of the Department of Geography and Environment of DU, said that an 8-metre tidal surge— which was recorded during previous cyclones— would flood the ash pond by about five metres and distribute the ashes across the Sunderbans.
Former zoology Professor of DU, Abul Bashar, economist Sharifuzzaman, Communist Party of Bangladesh leader Ruhin Hossain Prince and a good number of academicians attended the dialogue.

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