Rampal Power Plant’s carbon emissions to adversely affect Sunderbans: HC

M Moneruzzaman | Published: 00:00, Aug 28,2019 | Updated: 11:24, Aug 28,2019


Sunderbans in Bangladesh will definitely be adversely affected by huge carbon emissions from the coal-fired  power plant, the High Court Division said on Tuesday without mentioning the under construction Rampal Power Plant.

A bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and KM Kamrul Kader made the remarks while  delivering a verdict in which the Department of Environment directed to give the clearance for setting up Baraka LPG Bottling Plant at Mongla, Bagherhat.

Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company is constructing the coal-fired Rampal Power Plant at Rampal near the Sunderbans amidst severe protests from environmentalists and political activists as well as the UNESCO said that no  industries could be established in close proximity to the Sunderbans, a World Heritage Site.

The court said that the coal fired power plant would create problem for the government as the environmentalists opposing it.

The court made the observations after the attorney general requested it to form an expert committee led by National Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury to determine what industry could be allowed in the area Environmentally Critical to the Sunderbans.   

The bench said that as the coal fired power plant would emit more carbon than an LPG plant, environmentalists were opposing its establishment.

‘If you remove all industries inside the Environment Critically Area of the Sunderbans, we would have nothing to say,’ said the court.  

The bench said that the verdict would be no bar for removing all the industries near the Sunderbans by the government.

‘It is shocking that the government changed its position by allowing LPG plants by declaring them as green category industry, which was earlier in the red category of industry to favour  some people,’ the court said.

The court said that ‘discrimination’ was created by the government due to ‘its pick and choose policy’.

The  directive to the DoE for granting environmental clearance for setting up the  LPG plant by the Baraka Limited was opposed by the attorney general on the plea that the UNESCO was dead against allowing any industry within the Environmentally Critical Area to the Sunderbans.

The attorney general submitted that on December 24, 2017, the classification of LPG plant was changed to green from the red category for somebody on special considearation.

‘It doesn’t mean that all businessmen would be allowed to establish their LPG plants as it would destroy the Sunderbans, as it’s  our breather,’ he submitted.

Former law minister Shafique Ahmed and his son Mahbub Shafique appearing for the Baraka limited, the writ petitioners, submitted that discrimination was created as there was no bar from DoE giving clearance for establishment of LPGs by Senakallayan Sangstha, Omera Petroleum Limited and Dubai Bangla LPG Limited. 

In replying to query, attorney general said that the government did not appeal against the High Court Division’s verdicts that had directed the DoE to grant clearances for setting up LPG plants by Orion Gas Limited, Bengal LPG Limited and some others companies.

On April 5, 2018 a joint report of the ministry of environment and forests and the DoE submitted to the High Court Division said that they found 190 industries had been established within 10 km of the Sunderbans, which is Environmentally Critical Area to the Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.

According to the report, all the 24 industries could be disastrous for the Sunderbans and the waters as well as land areas surrounding the mangrove forest.  

The report identified 103 industries in Kamala  kha category that as less dangerous while 63 others of the Kamala  Ka category that is much  less dangerous to the Sunderbans.

The ministry of environment and forest and the DoE submitted that 181 industries took  clearance from the DoE while nine others took  only site clearance.

The report was submitted to a bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice  Md Ashraful Kamal when it was hearing a public interest litigation writ petition of Supreme Court lawyer Shaikh Faridul Islam, also president of Save the Sunderbans challenging the legality of establishment of  some 154 industries within 10-km Environmentally Critically Area.

The writ petition await disposal.

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