Govt plays down Unesco's concern at Rampal

Govt plays down Unesco’s concern at Rampal


Dhaka – The State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Nasrul Hamid Bipu has said that the Department of Environment will respond to UNESCO, which has expressed its concern over the environmental impact of the Rampal thermo-electric plant on the Sundarbans.
He was responding to a question after participating at an event in Dhaka on the issue on Saturday.The Maitree Super Thermal Power Project is a joint venture by India and Bangladesh and will come up at Rampal near the Sundarbans.
The deltaic region has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UN body.
Although many civic and environmental organisations have voiced their opposition to the project, the government has been trying to allay their fears through maintaining that the project would have no ill effects on the delicate ecosystem of the Sundarbans.
Amidst all this, a section of the media have reported that UNESCO has written to the Bangladesh government, urging it that the project be scrapped.
The minister said that an appropriate reply would be given to UNESCO.
Asked if the government was mulling dropping the project, he said that he had no such information. – source:
Earlier, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has raised objection to the setting up of the much-talked-about coal-based power plant at Rampal, near the Sundarbans.
This objection has come at a time when the opposition to the construction of the plant from different environmentalist organisations at home and abroad is at the peak.
In a 50-page report sent to the government policymakers on August 11, the UNESCO said the place of world heritage and the largest mangrove forest Sundarbans and the bio-diversity will be dangerously affected, if the coal-based power plant is constructed at Rampal. It has advised the government to shift the power plant from Rampal to somewhere else.The UNESCO has also described as incomplete the environmental impact assessment (EIA) done by an organisation. It has sought the reply of the government on the report by October 11.
The report has been sent by Mechtild Rössler, Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. It has said the Rampal power plant to be constructed within a distance of 14 kilometres from the Sundarbans will come up for discussions at the 40th session of the world heritage committee scheduled for October 24- 26 in France. The report has hinted that the session may declare the Sundarbans as a risky place of world heritage.
In July last year also, the UNESCO world heritage committee at its 39th session had expressed concern that the Rampal coal-based power plant would harm the Sundarbans and wanted to know what steps the government would take to minimise the adverse effect. Prior to the UNESCO step, another UN body Ramsar secretariat had expressed concern to the government over the Rampal power plant. Besides, 177 organisations of the world had sent letters last month to the Exim Bank of India requesting it not to finance the Rampal power plant. Human chains were also formed in different countries opposing the Rampal power plant.
But the government firmly sticks to the decision on the construction of the power plant and has already concluded a deal with the loan provider Exim Bank of India.


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