POST TIME: 5 July, 2015 00:00 00 AM
Shift Rampal power plant, save Sundarbans
Right activists urge govt
Staff Reporter, Khulna

Shift Rampal power plant, 
save Sundarbans

Right activists at a convention in Khulna city on Saturday urged the government to stop construction work of Rampal Thermal Power Plant close to Sundarbans and shift the project to safer places in the country for the sake of biodiversity and environment of the world’s largest mangrove forest. It would destroy the ecosystem of forests and turn the entire area into a wasteland, the observed.
The decision of setting up a coal-based power plant on the periphery of the Sundarbans, a wildlife sanctuary and the lone habitat of Bengal tigers, was ‘suicidal’, they commented.
As planned, the government is going to construct a 1,321 MW coal-fired power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat along the Pashur River, 14 kilometers off the Sundarbans buffer zone. India is financing the power project.
 The speakers noted, the government ignored the need of environmental assessment that was required before approval of the site for such plant. The Sundarbans is not only an asset of Bangladesh, but also of the world. The agreement has put the forest in danger.
They also said through implementing the power plant project, the government will violate Ecologically Critically Area (ECA) Act, Bangladesh Environment Conservation Rules, Forest Act and Convention of Biological Diversity.
The committee for protecting the Sundarbans arranged the convention on “The Effect and Imperatives of Rampal Thermal Power Plant on the Sundarbans” at Umesh Chandra Public Library auditorium under sadar thana in the city. Convener of the National Committee for protecting the Sundarbans and former adviser to the Caretaker Government Advocate Sultana Kamal addressed the convention as the chief guest. Convener of the convention organizing committee and freedom fighter Advocate AFM Mohsin presided over the function.
Convener of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports Engineer Sheikh Md Shahidullah inaugurated the convention.  Teacher of Environmental Science Faculty of Khulna University (KU) Prof Dr Abdullah Harun Chowdhury presented the keynote paper.
Joint Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) Md Jamal Sharif, Water Expert Engineer M Enamul Haque, Khulna divisional coordinator of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers Association (Bela) Mahfuzur Rahman Mukul, Member Secretary of the National Committee for protecting the Sundarbans Dr Abdul Matin, Executive Director of Center for Policy Dialogue (CDP) Syed Jahangir Hasan Masum, organizer of Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports Sardar Ruhin Hossain Prince, among others, spoke on the occasion. Member secretary of Khulna Nagorik Samaj Advocate Md Babul Hawlader conducted the convention.
Prof Dr Abdullah Harun Chowdhury said accordingly 13,000 metric tonnes of coal will be burnt in Rampal for producing 1,320 MW electricity of which ashes will be 600 metric tonnes.  And this is enough for jeopardizing the human health, trees and environment at large.  Ash mixed liquid will contaminate the surface and underground water in the surrounding areas that will have negative impact on human health and flora and fauna, he added.  Prof Harun further said, “Black fumes and fly ashes will greatly cover the region by affecting the normal sun-shine and moon-shines”.  Dark cloud will very often cover the region, he added.
Grass quality will be changed which will ultimately affect the health of the animals including production and quality of milk. The UN recognised world heritage Sundarban will be largely affected even with its sound existence under adverse impact of coal-fired power station in Rampal upazila of Bagerhat district.   Water expert Engineer M Enamul Haque said power plant will cause scarcity of drinking water too. He said drinking water level is now found below 1,000 feet which will move further downwards and the region will face severe drinking water crisis in future under adverse impact of coal-fired power plant.