The Bangladesh government has responded to Unesco's concerns over the Rampal power plant, saying the project would not cause any harm to the Sundarbans.
The government said the authorities would use the latest technologies and follow the guidelines of the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) while implementing the project. Therefore, there would be no negative impact on the forest.
On October 9, Nurul Karim, acting secretary of the environment and forest ministry, sent a 63-page letter to M Shahidul Islam, permanent representative of Bangladesh to the Unesco.
Shahidul, who is also the Bangladesh ambassador to France, would hand over the letter to the Unesco, officials of the ministry have said.
Contacted, Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, confirmed the development yesterday.
“We would use the world's latest technology. You need to understand this,” he said without elaborating.
He, however, said the media reports (on the coal-fired power plant) are based mostly on (anti-Rampal) “activists”.
He also suggested journalists to read the full report of the Unesco and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and talk to experts before writing anything on the project.
The Bangladesh government wrote to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in response to its report sent in August.
The report said the Sundarbans, a world heritage site, and its biodiversity will be dangerously affected if the thermal power plant is built there.
In the report, the Unesco requested the government to conduct a revised EIA before going ahead with the Rampal power plant.
The government was also requested to submit a revised EIA report with the advice note of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) before advancing with the physical work of the plant.
The report came when the Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Ltd is expected to sign a loan agreement with the Exim Bank, India and the physical work of the Rampal power plant is to start soon.
The Rampal project has drawn severe criticism from the green activists, but the government maintained that the project at Rampal, 14 kilometers from the Sundarbans, would not harm the forest.
THE GOVT LETTER
Quoting the government letter sent to the Unesco, an environment ministry official said, “Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) of efficiency approximately 99.9 percent shall be used to collect fly ash and control the emission of particular matter.”
“Advanced low-NOx [nitrogen oxide] burner shall be used to control emission of NOx within the limit of the World Bank or International Finance Corporation guidelines.
“Highly efficient wet type Flue Gas Desulphurisation System to be used to capture SOx,“ added the official, quoting the letter.
He also said combination of the actions would be the best technology to arrest heavy metals like mercury.
The power plant will use closed cycle cooling water system, which means no heated water will be released to the open water and thus it will not hamper the surrounding aquatic life, he noted.
“The apprehension of the mission [Unesco] is factually not correct…therefore, there is no 'high likelihood' of air and water pollution,” the report said, according to the official.
The salinity of the Passur river will also not be affected due to the project as it will adopt central effluent treatment plant to treat the effluent. Maximum treated water would be reused in the plant area, he added.
On the Unesco's advice to prepare a revised EIA, the Bangladesh government report said an EIA for the Rampal power plant has already been conducted, the official added.