Rights groups seek Unesco intervention
The government is indifferent to the scientific opinions and precise conditions of the Unesco to save the Sundarbans, said green activists yesterday.
“We've written to Unesco to examine whether the government is following its conditions. We've also asked Unesco to take measures so that their conditions are fulfilled,” said advocate Sultana Kamal, convener of Sundarban Rokkha Jatiya Committee (committee to protect the Sundarbans).
Fifty-seven organisations including Sundarban Rokkha Jatiya Committee and Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) organised a press conference demanding “Immediate Intervention of Unesco to Save the Sundarbans” at Dhaka Reporters Unity, says a press release.
“We took part in the Liberation War to save the country; its wealth, environment and people. The Sundarbans is a unique wealth of the world. It is our duty to save it,” said Sultana.
Reading out the summary of their letter, she said they have asked Unesco to include the Sundarbans issue in its upcoming 42nd meeting of World Heritage Committee and reevaluate the risk factors of the largest mangrove forest.
They suggested suspending the construction work of the coal-fired power plant in Rampal till the completion of “Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)”.
They also requested Unesco to ask India the reason behind its involvement in the project that would destroy a world heritage site of another country.
They also asked Unesco to call upon the investors to not to invest in the coal-fired power plant project until the SEA is completed.
Bapa General Secretary Dr Abdul Matin said, “We'll expect the prime minister will take steps to stop the destructive activities against the Sundarbans.”
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) was awarded the contract to construct the 1,320MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant in Bagerhat's Rampal near the Sundarbans, a world heritage site, at an estimated cost of $1.68 billion. A joint venture company styled Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd (BIFPCL) has been formed to implement the project. The Rampal project is located 14 kilometres from the world's largest mangrove forest.
India is providing 80 percent of the financing with one percent interest on the loan payable over a period of 30 years. Bangladesh offered the land. The Sundarbans was included in the World heritage List in 1997 in consideration of its outstanding universal value as a unique ecosystem.