Nat’l committee blasts govt for failure to address its concerns

Staff Correspondent | Published at 01:16am on December 31, 2017

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National Committee to Protect Sundarban convener Sultana Kamal, in Dhaka on Saturday, briefs journalists about the latest stage of setting up a coal-fired thermal power plant at Rampal. — New Age photo

Members of the National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans on Saturday said that the government had failed to counter the scientific analyses apprehending hazardous impacts of the controversial Rampal coal-fired power plant.
They complained that the government was telling ‘blatant lies’ while moving forward on the 1320MW power project near the world’s largest mangrove forest, bypassing UNESCO’s request to it for checking ‘any’ large-scale industrial installation in the south-west region of Bangladesh, covering the Sunderbans, until conducting a strategic environmental assessment.
Addressing a news conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity, committee convener Sultana Kamal said that the government headstrong to implement the project despite worldwide criticisms remained irresponsive even after being provided with at least 13 scientific documents by the committee four months back.
‘Government propagandists could only undermine our conservation campaign but failed to counter scientific arguments,’ she said, adding that all the scientific analyses they provided had been conducted by internationally acclaimed experts.
‘The experts have found the government’s propagations related to the nature of Rampal plant are misleading,’ she said.
Dhaka University geology professor Badrul Imam said that the committee would prefer ‘open debates’ with government-engaged lobbyists to ensure transparency.
Considering air-flow direction during dry season, Dhaka University botany professor Abdul Aziz said that vegetation of the Sunderbans would be affected within six months of commissioning the Rampal power plant.
Bangladesh Environment Network convener Nazrul Islam said that Bangladeshi expatriates were seriously worried about the plant’s cumulative impacts on the Sunderbans.
‘When most of the countries are facilitating coal phase-out from industries, Bangladesh should prioritise renewable energies as the country’s energy sector is still at a developing stage,’ he said.
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolan general secretary Mohammad Abdul Matin moderated the conference where Mobassher Hossain and BAPA joint secretary Sharif Jamil also spoke.