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

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.