No harm to Sundarbans, says Hasina

No harm to Sundarbans, says Hasina

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is of the view that there is some other
motive behind the Rampal power plant protests.
She reiterated her government’s claim that the plant will not harm the
environment in any way.
She said this on Saturday while unveiling the foundation plaque of the
coal-fired Maitree Super Thermal Power Project, to be built at Rampal
in Bagerhat, amid protests from environmentalists who are of the
opinion that the project will destroy ecology of Sundarbans.
She said, “I would like to ask those who are opposing the project that
did Barapukuria power plant, which is also a coal-based power project,
cause any damage there?”
“One should ponder why then this movement against Rampal [power
plant]? The reasons behind the protest should be unearthed.”
“Those who are confusing the people through their protests, I’m
telling them, there will be no damage to Sundarbans. Sheikh Hasina
will not do anything to harm the country,” said the Prime Minister.
The power plant at Rampal would be built jointly with India.
The foundation plaque was unveiled along with the inauguration of
Bangladesh-India Power Transmission Centre and Bheramara 360 Combined
Cycle Power Plant.
The transmission centre has been set up to import power from India.
Sheikh Hasina attended the ceremony in Kushtia’s Bheramara. Indian
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined her through a video conference
while his representative Indian Power Minister Farooqe Abdullah
attended the ceremony.
Environmentalists, political activists, and the local people of Rampal
apprehend the plant will endanger the very existence of the world’s
largest mangrove forest located only 14 kilometres away from the
proposed site of the power plant.
The main opposition, BNP is also against the project.
Manmohan Singh in his speech at the inaugural session also urged to
address the environment concerns while establishing the power plant.
Bangladesh signed an agreement with India in January last year to set
up the 1,320MW joint venture ‘Bangladesh-India Friendship Power
Company Limited’ with equal partnership.
The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power
and Ports are saying the pollution emitted from this plant would
endanger the ecology threatening the very existence of the world’s
largest mangrove forest located only 14 kilometres away from the plant
site.
The protesters have already held demonstrations against the
government’s move and threatened to thwart the foundation stone-laying
ceremony on Oct 22 if the project is not scrapped by Oct 11.
Hasina on Saturday said, “I did not obstruct their long march. I said
they can go there and see for themselves. Visit the forest if you
want.”
Mentioning the coal-fired power plant at Dinajpur’s Barapukuria, she
said, “Crops are harvested at Barapukurai in three phases every year.
Did any damages take place there?”
The coal-based power plant at Barapukuria comprises two 125 megawatt
units. Works to set up another 250MW unit there has already begun.
The Prime Minister said her government has already taken initiatives
to build 13 coal-fired plants to tackle Bangladesh’s power crisis.
There would be two more 1320MW coal-based power plants at Maheshkhali
and Chittagong.
The government has already initiated talks with Malaysia and China to
set up another two plants, she added.
“Let’s see whether they would protest against those projects too,”
Hasina said addressing the Rampal protesters.
Regarding the Awami League government’s initiatives to protect the
Sundarbans, she said, “My government was the one which took initiative
to enlist the Sundarbans as world heritage to protect it. We were the
one who took the initiative to plant millions of seedlings across the
country and started the drive for coastal forestation and extending
the forest covers.” – Agency

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