Transparency International Bangladesh yesterday called upon the government to immediately suspend all controversial projects, including the Rampal power plant near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Issuing a statement, the graft watchdog expressed deep concern following the Unesco’s recent proposal to put the Sundarbans on the list of “World Heritage in Danger” in the proposed agenda for its 43rd session to be held in Azerbaijan’s Baku.
The TIB urged the government to take into consideration the Unesco World Heritage Committee’s recommendation to conduct a Strategic Environment Assessment and draw up a time-bound action plan.
TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said the World Heritage Committee’s proposal proves that their concern about the danger to the Sundarbans was not baseless.
“We think such a situation has been created as the government overlooked the concern and suggestions about implementing such a risky project near the Sundarbans without conducting any Strategic Environment Assessment.
“To overcome the situation, all the activities on building coal-based power plants in Rampal, Taltoli and Kolapara have to be suspended immediately before the upcoming Baku meeting and steps should be taken to implement an action plan as per the directive of Unesco World Heritage Committee.”
The World Heritage Centre, which enlisted the Sundarbans as natural heritage in 1997, has been raising objections about the power plant since the government took the initiative for the construction of Rampal power plant.
The centre also requested the government to invite its mission to prepare a set of corrective measures to protect the Sundarbans from any potential environmental danger.
Although the government has always claimed that the power plant would not pose any threat to the Sundarbans, the Unesco and environmentalist groups were never convinced.