Dhaka – Is Ramphal coal-powered thermal power plant going to be the next flash point? This question is being asked by neutral obserers as the National Committee on Oil, Gas and Ports have vowed to stop the prospect by utilising their ‘experience of movement against the phulbari coal mine project’ – that remains stalled – the government on Saturday expressed its resolve implement the power plant project come what may.
Meanwhile, the opposition Bangladesh nationalist party has thrown its weight behind the protest against the Ramphal project which they termed as against the country’s interests. On Saturday before the government’s tough staqnce was made public left parties – Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) president ASM Abdsur Rob, Nagorik Oikya chief adviser SM Akram Hossain, and Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD) chief Khalequzzaman Bhuiyan have expressed solidarity with the protest against the Ramphal project which they vowed to pursue to the last. Activists of the Communist Party of Bangladesh are actively involved in the National Committee on Oil, Gas and Ports which is spearheading the protests.
They said that the joint venture preoject with India has been sited near the Sunderbans disregarding its potential threat of thermal and carbon emittions to the Sunderbans which is ecologically fragile but the mainstay of Bangladesh’s environment, ecosystem, biological cycle, life and livelihood of people plus natural barrier to seastorm and floods after attempts to set up such a project failed due to protests mounted in West Bengal. Frequent shimpent of coal through the rivers inside the Sunderbans would be another threat to the largest mangrove forest of the world, they said.
In India more than 150 environmental organisations have in a joint statement last week asked India’s Exim Bank, the proposed funder of the project, not to go ahead with the project in Banglasdesh.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday issued a strong warning against those who will try to create anarchy in the country making Rampal power plant an issue. Addressing a press conference at her official residence Ganabhaban she said, Ramphal plant to be implemented with own fund if Indian Exim Bank retreats. “If anyone wants to create anarchy over a non-issue, then we won’t step behind….we’ll take stern action to contain it,” she said.
UNB reported, The PM said, “We’re taking the country forward. I know many people cannot tolerate it. Why Bangladesh will move forward, why Bangladesh will be self-dependent, why people will live a better life, they cannot accept this. That’s why they’re looking for an issue.”
Citing logic and facts in favour of the proposed project, Sheikh Hasina said the project won’t cause any harm to the Sundarbans.
She also urged people not to be misguided through the propaganda of those who are already politically bankrupt.
Expressing her determination for doing good for the people of the country, she said, “It is my request to people to keep confidence in me… I’m the daughter of Bangbanadhu, I didn’t do such thing in the past, I won’t do in the future that will bring a little harm to the country and its people.”
“An anti-development vested quarter has long been trying to create a negative attitude among people about the Rampal power plant project by making baseless, fabricated and imaginary statements and giving false information,” she said.
The Prime Minister came up with the remarks when BNP chief Khaleda Zia on Wednesday urged the government to refrain from implementing Rampal power plant for the sake of the country’s ecological balance and natural beauty.
Hasina further said, “The cat finally came out of the bag on August 24.
I used to think what was the source of power or instigation of those on a movement against Rampal power plant. It is now clear as Khaleda Zia openly joined the false campaign through a press conference, though she has long been instigating them from behind the scene.”
Mentioning that BNP has been maintaining silence on the issue for a long time, Hasina said, “I think there’s a deep-rooted hidden conspiracy behind her joining the propaganda openly.”
Rejecting misconception that the Rampal plant will harm the country and the Sundarbans, she said the anti-state and anti-development quarter is now engaged in creating a negative perception in public mind about it.
The BNP leader has now chalked out an evil design having failed to get benefit by killing people through petrol bomb attacks and patronising terrorists as well as instigating various incidents like Gulshan and Sholakia terror attacks, she said.
“The BNP leader is now thinking that she has got a chance, she’ll put the government in an awkward position through instigating the anti-Rampal movement,” she added.
Hasina said her government decided to establish power plants in different parts of the country, including a number of coal-fired power plants, to meet the growing demand of electricity, and Rampal plant is one of them.
Responding to a question about the recent appeal by some local and international organisations to Indian Exim Bank to withdraw its loan from the project, the Prime Minister said if they do not provide the loan her government will surely make another arrangement.
“If that fails then we’ll implement it with our own fund as we’re doing in the case of Padma Bridge,” she said. – News Desk