Skip to main content

Indo-Bangla coal-fired power project "threatens" world's largest contiguous mangrove forest, Sundarban

By Our Representative
Protests have broken out in Bangladesh against a joint India-Bangladesh power project at Rampal, situated in the immediate north of the world’s Sundarban mangrove forests, declared world heritage site by UNESCO. The world's largest contiguous mangrove ecosystem stretching over 10,200 sq km across India and Bangladesh, Sundarban’s 4,263 sq km of reserve forest is in India and 5,937 sq km is in Bangladesh. Proposed as 1320 MW coal-fired power station at Rampal of Bagerhat district in Khulna, Bangladesh, the project is a joint partnership between India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board.
As part of ongoing protests, in October last week, several cultural organizations, writers and activists, in association with the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Port and Power, Bangladesh, organized a rally in the centre Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Leading cultural organizations took part with street drama, satire, songs, poetry and other performances.
The joint venture company under which the project is being implemented is known as Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC). The proposed project, on an area of over 1834 acres of land, is situated 14 kilometres north of Sundarban. To be the country’s largest power plant, construction work for the project has begun, dredging and land filling is going on.
“The plant will inevitably have an impact on the water within the forests, which is vital to the riverine ecosystem. The local University of Khulna estimates that half a million tons of toxic sludge will be released into the forests’ waterways annually. All the coal for the power station will be transported through freshly dredged rivers in the forest to a depot within the UNESCO World Heritage site”, says Mowdud Rahman of the Southeast Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (SEAREPA), Bangladesh, in a statement.
Rahman, in a statement issued in Dhaka, has quoted Dr Y Jhala of India’s Wildlife Conversation Society as saying that the environmental impact assessment of the project was “poorly done” without “significantly assessing the impact of the coal plant on the wetlands ecosystem.” Dr Jhala adds, “Infrastructure to supply the plant with coal will cause problems.”
According to Rahman, “The mangrove forest is intersected by rivers, which the tigers must swim across. The continuous stream of barges, carrying coal will fragment the population by preventing the tigers crossing key rivers. There are only around five viable wild tiger habitats left in the world for long term hope. This is one of them. If you break these up into smaller parts you lose that, not ecologically, but biologically.”
He adds, “The views of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the forest department, and the department of environment were sent to the Ramsar secretariat on August 1. The forest department has expressed its concern over emissions of hot water, ashes and pollution from the power plant.”
Already, in response, “the United Nations’ Ramsar secretariat has expressed its concern over the Rampal power plant, unauthorized river route and coal depot being set up by the side of the Sundarbans.” Bangladesh is as a signatory of the Ramsar Convention, and it has been asked to explain the project; If the Sundarban faces any harm due to manmade reasons or the government’s activities, it will be considered as a violation of the Ramsar convention, informs Rahman.
Rahman quotes a Bangladesh forest department report to say that it will lead to hot water waste emission from the power plant into the Sundarban waters, killing plants and animal micro-organisms in the rivers near the forest. This will also harm the dolphins in the Sundarban rivers. The birds too will not be able to survive in their forest habitat because of this hot water. The diverse variety of frogs will also be harmed. 
Then, coal will be transported through the river Pasur in the Sundarbans for this project. “This will emit huge amounts of nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury into the air, causing acid rain in the area”, the report has been quoted as saying.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.