A plan to erect a coal-fired power plant at a place next to the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world, is drawing fire from activists across the country who say it would destroy the world heritage site.
The proposed 1320-megawatt plant, to be built in the area of Rampal in the southern Bagerhat district, was initially put into motion in a bilateral agreement between Bangladesh and India during the Bangladeshi prime minister’s tour of India in 2011 before an environmental impact assessment was conducted by Bangladesh’s Environment Ministry.
On 20 April, 2013, the Power Development Board of Bangladesh signed three agreements with India’s National Thermal Power Corporation, which made the implementation official.
The project, estimated to cost 1.6 billion US dollars, is expected to be completed by 2018.
When the government finally released an environmental impact assessment on the power plant, environmentalists rejected it in a consultative meeting, organized by the Power Division on April 12, arguing that the report did not take into consideration most of the important environmental aspects of the Sundarbans, its ecology, flora, and fauna as well as a large number of local people.
Besides, the report stated that once the proposed site was a part of Sundarbans, but had been evacuated by the settlers later, reports Global Voices.
Bangladesh’s energy infrastructure is known to be quite small, insufficient and poorly managed. Only 40% of the population has access to electricity with a per capita availability of 136 kWh per Annum. So there is a huge pressure on the Government to meet the growing demands of electricity.
The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports on its website urged citizens of both India and Bangladesh to carry out concentrated efforts to stop the power plant.
Source: UNB Connect