Finance Minister AMA Muhith said the Rampal power plant was here to stay but admitted that it would have an adverse effect on the Sundarbans, bdnewsnews24.com has reported.
“That would make some impact, obviously,” he said. “So many vessels will be carrying coal … they will substantially affect the flora and fauna there.”
The coal-fired power plant was being set up in collaboration with India despite huge protests from environmentalists.
But the government has been claiming that necessary measures to protect the environment have been taken.
“Our power ministry has been saying they did a proper environmental survey. It showed that it (power plant) will not have much impact.”
When asked if the project can be moved elsewhere, he said, “That is probably not a possibility.”
Muhith was talking to reporters on Monday after a meeting with Paula Caballero, the World Bank’s senior director for Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice.
A Unesco team is due in Bangladesh in March to assess the risk the Sundarbans is likely to face due to Rampal plant.
Asked about the plant, the finance minister first declined to comment.
“I will visit Rampal and speak after that,” he said.
Muhith later made some comments on the project.
“There is no scope to set up a coal-based plant in land-based Bangladesh. We have learnt that lesson. So the coal-based plants will be set up at Moheshkhali, Payra and other coastal areas,” he said.
He said the plants may be set up on the islands linked to Khulna, Bhola and Patuakhali.
About the Sundarbans, he said, “We are cutting Sundari trees aplenty . It will cause separation of a large part of the forest. And it will not be good for us.”
He stressed the need to raise public awareness to preserve the forests.
“We have only 9 percent of forest land but that should be raised to at least 15 percent. So we’ll have to do something domestically for the Sundarbans,” Muhith said.
He said use of LPG may be a solution to the increasing use of wood as fuel.
Asked if the oil prices will be adjusted in line with dropping global oil prices, Muhith said his ministry will discuss the issue with the energy ministry.
“I’ve asked the energy ministry to submit a working paper on the issue to the economic affairs committee. That will lead to more comprehensive discussions there,” he said.
The government has not yet cut down oil prices though that has been falling in the international market for a long time.
According to media reports, BPC has recommended a cut of Tk 5-20.
“I haven’t seen it (recommendation) yet. But this will be the issue for discussion. As the prime minister is in charge of the energy ministry, we will also need her opinion before the meeting,” Muhith said.