India is committed to installing a ‘clean coal plant’ at Rampal, says India’s new and renewable energy minister Farooq Abdullah.
During a tete-a-tete when he was in Dhaka, bdnews24.com Editor-in-Chief Toufique Imrose Khalidi confronted Farooq Abdullah with a series of questions on Rampal, beginning with how he reacts to the Opposition concerns on the project, as it was only 14 kms from the Sundarbans. Here excerpts from his recorded interview:
Abdullah: I think I can assure your all opposition parties, that as far as any project that India is going to make, no project India will take that will be detrimental to the environment, because the Sundarbans are also very close to us. It is not only…we share Sundarbans, both the countries. And nothing will be done…these are the tragedies with us. Sometimes these things are taken to such a level to create a hype, that people start, you know, doubting each other. That is why I want to clear one thing, nothing wiil be done, India will not do anything which will anyway be detrimental to the environment of Bangladesh or its own nation. Because we are also building huge modern plants of coal. Clean Coal Plants. If they were going to be detrimental we would not build them.
Khalidi: 60 percent of Indian power comes from coal.
Abdullah: Yes. We would not build them. And our maximum import is coal now-a-days.
Khalidi: Perhaps one reason that coal power is being scaled down in developed countries is that they have proved to be dangerous. Despite detailed impact studies, due diligence and contingency plans. Yet you are confident enough to endorse Rampal. Why?
Abdullah: I am quite confident that India will not do anything that will harm your environment, or that of Sundarbans.
Khalidi: But anti-Rampal campaigners say, even in India, there are guidelines set by environmental department …
Abdullah: We have environmental minister, Jayanthi Natarajan…
Khalidi: …as well as a directive from the high court, that’s what thay are saying in Bangladesh, that there cannot be any coal-fired plant set up within a certain area of any forests. They say the Indian limit is 20 kilometres. Is that true?
Abdullah: No, I don’t think so.
Khalidi: what is the situation?
Abdullah: Let me make one thing very clear about it. Earlier technologies that were there are diffirent to one which is now coming to it. The new technology is far more cleaner. Far more cleaner and far more efficient than the ones we had earlier. That is why the misunderstanding from the earlier coal plants that caused so much of pollution… Things have changed. I would like to suggest that those who are complaining so much, I would ask them, please, go to Rome, which is so populated, and they have a clean coal plant going there, which they should see. And they will realize, if Rome can do this, why not us.
Khalidi: The Bangladesh government says low-sulphur coal to be used for the Rampal plant will be imported from Australia, South Africa or Indonesia.
Abdullah: Like we do. We are doing the same thing, No different. Now we are also importing from Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.
Khalidi: That’s quite expensive… but opponents say once the plant say, they are going now, that eventually low-quality Indian coal will make its way to the plant.
Abdullah: Not at all, not at all.
(The interview was telecast on Ekattor TV at 9:30pm on Monday and Bengali-language daily ‘Samakal’ will run a report on it in its Tuesday edition)
Source: Bd news24