International community against Rampal 1,320MW coal-fired power project near Sunderbans on Sunday demanded cancellation of the project and urged everyone to raise their voice to save the world’s largest mangrove forest.
In a declaration issued after a two-day international conference, 106 organisations and green activists including Green Peace, Friends of the Earth, World Wild Foundation, Women Engage for the Common Future and Bank Truck said the coal-fired power plant would irreversibly damage the Sundarbans.
‘It will disrupt the link between humans and the environment by destroying ecology and species,’ said the declaration that also demanded the immediate cancellation of the power plant construction.
Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company, a 50-50 joint-venture of Bangladesh Power Development Board and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation, engaged India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals to set up the power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat, some 14 km off the Sunderbans, by 2019.
Bangladesh’s National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports and its European arm organised the international conference titled Rampal Coal-fired Power Plant and Alternative Energy Solutions for Bangladesh held in Berlin, Germany.
‘The Sunderbans is bestowed with magnificent scenic beauty and extraordinarily rich biodiversity with a unique eco-system. It is a habitat of some of the endangered species including the Royal Bengal Tiger and Ganges dolphin. People living in adjacent areas are also dependent on this forest. Besides providing livelihood, it is also protecting millions of people living in the coastal belt from tidal surges and cyclones,’ according to the declaration.
The Sunderbans is under severe threat from the Bangladesh-India joint venture project – Rampal 1,320MW coal-fired power plant, which would emit 7.9 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide and 0.94 million tonnes of ashes per annum, according to a release issued by Solidarity Action Networking and Green Energy Solutions for Bangladesh.
The emission would contaminate environment of the adjacent areas and would put the ecosystem into perilous condition, the release said.
Despite the grave concerns raised by the experts, scientists, environmentalists, local population, and international organisations, the government of Bangladesh has been working to implement the project for the last seven years.
‘We demand the government to listen to the clean energy movement and protect people’s interest rather than corporate interest. As renewable energy is cheaper and eco-friendly, we demand policy shift emphasising renewable energy production rather than dirty coal energy generation. Renewable energy will protect ecology, life and livelihood of the people. The government must take appropriate steps to phase out coal and replace it with renewable energy sources,’ the green activists demanded in their Berlin Declaration.
They also said that the government’s Power System Master Plan 2016 failed to address environmental concerns and technical development in regards to renewable energy sources.
In the two-day conference, the participants categorically refuted the government’s arguments in regards to the nuclear and coal dependent energy policy.
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