A citizens’ platform to protect oil, gas and mineral resources has demanded that a joint project to set up a coal-run power plant at Rampal near the Sundarbans be dropped during India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.
Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, made the demand at a media conference on Wednesday.
According to Muhammad, the plant has been planned within 14 kilometres of the Sundarbans’ Bangladesh portion.
He said India could not build such a plant as its law prohibits raising power plants within 25 kilometres of any forest.
He demanded that Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina cancel the project and take programme to expand the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world.
Muhammad said the government was paying no heed to demands to cancel the project from the people of the country, experts and organisations in and outside the country.
“An international tender notice has been published recently over the project. The preparation to build the plant is underway, too,” he said.
“Even the government’s monitoring report admitted that the pollution caused by the preparation was not controlled.”
Referring to the government-appointed organisation CEGIS’ report submitted in November, 2014, he said the steps that were supposed to be taken to control dust during piling, sound and smoke during dredging, to manage waste, and to conserve fish were not taken.
“These pollutions may not destroy the Sundarbans, but these make it clear what will happen to the Sundarbans once the plant is in operation,” Muhammad said.
“It is not difficult to imagine what will happen once the thousands of tonnes of sulphur nitrogen gas, ash and coal-washing water will flow out,” he said.
He urged the people to demand withdrawal of the project during World Environment Day programmes on June 5.
Bangladesh and India inked three agreements in March, 2013 for the joint coal-based power project – 1320MW Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BIFPCL) – at Rampal.
The power plant is proposed to be set up over 1,834 acres near the Mongla seaport. – bdnews24.com