Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN), a citizens' platform advocating good governance, urged the government to scrap the proposed coal-based Rampal Power Plant and implement the project away from the Sundarbans.
In a joint statement yesterday, SHUJAN president M Hafizuddin Khan and its secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumder said they were observing with grave concern that the government is heading towards the implementation of the controversial Rampal Power Plant ignoring the concerns and protests of environmentalists, civil society members, local and international scientists and social and political organisations as well.
On July 12, 2016, Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BIFPCL) signed an agreement with Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited (BHEL) to construct the coal-fired power plant. The power plant will be built under a joint venture of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and the National Thermal Power Corporation Limited of India under the BIFPCL banner.
The SHUJAN statement said the Sundarbans is situated about 14 kilometres away from the proposed 1,320-megawatt coal-based power plant site, but the peripheral area of the forest begins within four kilometers from the plant. No power plant can be built within 20 kilometres of a forest or a wildlife sanctuary, as per the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Guideline Manual 2012 of India.
About 47 lakh metric tonnes of coal will be brought through waterways annually to keep the project operational. Coal could be mixed with water during its transportation, which may cause havoc to aquatic animals and environment of the Sundarbans.
The power plant will produce 7.5 lakh tonnes of fly ash and 2 lakh tonnes of bottom ash per year. About 15 percent of the ash will be generated as a result of burning coal, according to the project's environment impact assessment.
The Sundarbans is a world heritage site of Unesco, being the habitat of the Bengal tiger and endangered Irrawaddy dolphin.