A massive industrialisation was going on at Kalapara in Patuakhali putting the ecology of the costal district at risk, green activists’ forum Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon said on Saturday.
After visiting the sites of four thermal power plants, Payra seaport and a cantonment in the area, BAPA at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity demanded the government to disclose detailed points and facts about the projects.
‘Like that of coal-fired Rampal power plant near the Sunderbans, the government is going ahead with massive industrialisation projects at Kalapara keeping the people in the dark,’ said BAPA joint secretary Sharif Jamil.
The BAPA team found that the agro lands were acquired for the hazardous industrialisation in Patuakhali, he said.
Only Environmental Impact Assessments were done for two power plants, considering only 10-kilometre radius, which is quite small area to determine the environmental impact, Sharif observed.
For a cluster industrialisation in the developing delta of Patuakhali, he argued, a Strategic Environmental Assessment was essential. ‘But it has not been done.’
The soil of Patuakhali is vulnerable because of its soil characteristics and such industrialisation without proper assessment could be suicidal, he opined.
Sharif warned that the coal storages on the river banks would destroy the Hilsha fish sanctuary in Patuakhali.
The rivers in the district are large fish migration points and the hazardous industrialisation would destroy the fish migration route, he said.
Andharmanik, Nilganj, and Dhankhali rivers and the Ramnabad channel, on which Payra seaport is being constructed, is a sanctuary for young Hilsha fish, Sharif said adding that young hilshas like to live in those particular rivers and the channel.
BAPA demanded soil assessment and fresh EIA considering more areas.
Speaking at the conference, former caretaker government adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury lamented that the rivers, forests and lands of the country continued to be victims of aggression of money and muscle.
‘We are not against development, but it should not be at the cost of environment,’ she said.
Writer Syed Abul Maksud said that the development projects were being taken considering only short term gains. ‘We should take projects considering impacts of hundred years,’ he said.
Maksud alleged that there was an unholy nexus between moneyed men, politicians and the government.
‘Disclose all the names of the projects, their details, who own those and what are their political affiliations,’ he said. BAPA general secretary MA Matin, among others, spoke.