Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan on Sunday placed a 15-point demand for protecting the Sunderbans, which was facing threat of relegating to World Heritage Site in Danger by UNESCO for the development of power plants and factories near the largest mangrove forest of the world.
BAPA president and Sunderban Rakkhya Jatiya Committee chairman Sultana Kamal put forward the demands at a webinar.
She urged the government to take immediate steps to shut down the construction of coal-based power plants at Rampal, Taltoli and Payra near the Sunderbans.
She also demanded taking air and solar power-based power plant projects there.
Sultana demanded the shutdown of all 154 red-category factories near the forest, shutdown of dredging activities in rivers flowing through the forest.
She requested the government to take scientifically viable projects involving the locals in the area for protecting the unique biodiversity of the natural forest that is the only habitat of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
She also demanded proper, transparent and acceptable survey of development activities near the Sunderbans.
She further demanded taking projects for the increase of sweat water flow in the region and taking measures for controlling the grabbing of the rivers and canals in the southern part of the country.
Sultana further demanded that February 14 should be observed nationally as Sunderbans Day.
Since 2001, BAPA and several other organisations have been celebrating February 14 as Sunderbans Day.
Marking the day, different organisations held various programmes in Bagerhat, Barguna and Cox’s Bazar.
BAPA leaders Sharif Jamil, Abdul Matin, Fariduddin Ahmed, Professor Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, Sharmeen Murshid, Rawman Smita, among others, participated in the webinar.
They said that in past 40 years the Sunderbans, which has been protecting the nation from natural disasters, lost 6,000 acres of the reserve forest.
They said that the biodiversity and the natural germination of tress were disturbed for several human interventions in the forest.
They vowed to continue mounting pressure on the government for protecting the status of the Sunderbans as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list.
UNESCO at its 43rd World Heritage Committee meeting held in 2019 in Baku, Azerbaijan decided to review the status of the Sunderbans in its next meeting.
UNESCO’s 44th meeting scheduled for June 2020 in China did not take place for COVID-19 pandemic but the proposal on the Sunderbans will be placed in the meeting scheduled to be held in June, said Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan general secretary Sharif Jamil.
UNESCO decided to review the status of the forest after IUCN, official adviser of the UNESCO, in 2019 requested the UN body to relegate the status of the Sunderbans from the World Heritage Site to the World Heritage in Danger for several development activities, including power plant and dredging projects.
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