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7 July, 2017 12:32:05 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 July, 2017 12:42:12 PM
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UNESCO drops objection to Rampal power plant project

Staff Reporter
UNESCO drops objection to Rampal power plant project

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has withdrawn its earlier objection to the construction of the Rampal power plant at its current location. It has also spared the Sundarbans from being relegated to the List of World Heritages in Danger, according to a press release issued by the foreign affairs ministry yesterday.

The decision was taken at the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee, being held in Krakow, Poland. A high-level inter-ministerial delegation, led by Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, adviser to the Prime Minister on power, energy and mineral resources, is participating in the meeting to defend Bangladesh's position, said the release.

The 21-member World Heritage Committee decides whether a cultural or natural site should be included in the World Heritage List, monitors the state of conservation of the listed heritage sites, and can place a site on the World Heritage in Danger list, if the site is not properly managed.

The Sundarbans was placed on the World Heritage List in 1997 because of its outstanding universal value as a unique ecosystem.

In recent years, the World Heritage Committee expressed concern over the state of conservation of the Sundarbans and urged the Bangladesh government to take

steps to improve the conservation of the heritage site.

In addition to the issue of ensuring adequate freshwater flow into the Sundarbans and preventing poaching and over-extraction of its resources, the decision of the government to construct a coal-based power plant at Rampal came on the radar of the World Heritage Committee. Earlier, in 2016, a reactive monitoring mission from UNESCO recommended relocation of the Rampal power plant, considering its likely impact on the Sundarbans.

After a long series of deliberations, the Committee endorsed Bangladesh's decision to build the plant at its current location with necessary mitigation measures.

The Committee, in its decision, also welcomed a number of steps taken by Bangladesh since 2016 to ensure the conservation of the Sundarbans World Heritage Property.

At the request of the Committee, Bangladesh agreed to undertake a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the south-west region of the country, including the Sundarbans.

Welcoming the Committee's decision, Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury thanked the members of the committee for helping the government of Bangladesh to strike an optimum balance between economic development and heritage conservation.

He also assured the Committee of Bangladesh's full cooperation in ensuring the conservation of the outstanding universal value of the Sundarbans, a prized possession of the nation.

The other members of the delegation include Dr Ahmed Kaikaus, secretary, Power Division; M Shahidul Islam, ambassador to France and Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative at UNESCO;

Ziaur Rahman, additional secretary, ministry of environment and forests; Raisul Alam Mondal, director-general (DG), Department of Environment; Engineer Khalid Mahmud, chairman, Power Development Board (PDB); Mohammad Hossain, DG, Power Cell; Dr Sultan Ahmed, director, the Department of Environment; Zahiruddin Ahmed, conservator of forests; Malik Fida A Khan, deputy executive director, the Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS); Farhana Ahmed Chowdhury, first secretary of the Bangladesh Embassy in Paris; and Muktadir Aziz, senior assistant secretary, Power Division.

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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