Despite being severely vulnerable to climate change, the government of Bangladesh is increasing its own risks through setting up coal-based power plants in the country's coastal areas, Prof Anu Muhammad said yesterday.
Aside from the controversial Rampal power plant adjacent to the Sundarbans, the government has already approved three separate coal-based power plants in Maheshkhali, Barguna and Patuakhali, said the eminent environmentalist.
“Many countries around the world gave up coal-based power plants considering their environmental impact. The immense biodiversity in our coastal areas as well as the ecosystem will be threatened severely if such power plants are built,” he added.
Anu Muhammad, a professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, made the remarks at a press conference on green energy, organised by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports at Mukti Bhaban in Dhaka.
The Sundarbans, world's largest mangrove forest, is the safeguard for the people in Bangladesh's south-western region, he said.
“Instead of protecting such a saviour, the government is pushing it towards destruction through establishing the power plant in Rampal,” said Prof Muhammad, also member secretary of the National Committee.
Besides, the government gave approval to 320 private industries which will be built inside the ecologically critical area of the forest, he said in a keynote paper.
The environmentalist demanded that the government immediately stop construction of the Rampal power plant and the other industrial activities near the Sundarbans, and move away from building any further coal-based power plants.
He suggested that the authorities should focus on solar energy as a better alternative to the power solution in the coastal areas.
About the Rooppur nuclear power plant, Prof Muhammad alleged that the government started construction of the project without conducting any prior environmental impact assessment survey, and most of the information of the project are not transparent.
“The government is not building the Rampal and Rooppur power plants only to meet the demand of electricity. They [the government] are building those to maintain strategic relationship with India, which is closely involved in both of the projects,” he said.
He also demanded that all information on the Rooppur power plant be made available to the public.
Prof Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, convenor of the National Committee; Saiful Huq, general secretary of Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh; and Ruhin Hossain Prince, a central leader of Communist Party of Bangladesh, also spoke at the press conference.