Bangladesh's policy to set up coal-fired power plants will result in a long-term financial burden, a speaker said at a webinar today.
The speaker, Bangladeshi researcher and activist Maha Mirza, criticised the "growth-based development model" of Bangladesh while speaking at a virtual seminar titled 'Indo-Bangla Energy Dialogue'.
"This growth model can't alleviate poverty or create jobs. The coal-based electricity generation policy will lock Bangladesh into a long financial burden, the same as India," Maha Mirza said.
"Renewable energy is getting cheaper worldwide and in India. We should opt for renewable energy instead of coal. Renewable energy will create thousands of jobs in the market," she added.
Speakers at the webinar also urged the authorities concerned to cancel Rampal coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh and Adani-Godda power plant in Jharkhand, India, terming those "destructive towards nature and lives".
The seminar was co-organised by Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Growthwatch, South Asian People's Action on Climate Crisis (SAPACC) from India, Life and Nature Safeguard Platform (LNSP) and Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED) from Bangladesh, says a press release.
Addressing the webinar, eminent Indian environmentalist Soumya Dutta said Bangladesh must not destroy its natural shield to disasters, the Sundarbans.
"Super cyclone Amphan destroyed a million houses in West Bengal, the damage was severe. But the Sundarbans weakened the cyclone and hundreds of lives were saved in Bangladesh. It's a natural shield for Bangladesh which must not be destroyed," said Soumya.
"The mercury emission from Rampal plant will destroy the ecosystem of rivers and water bodies of the Sundarbans," he added.
Eminent Indian author, journalist and filmmaker Paranjoy Guha Thakurta said, "If India wants to export electricity to Bangladesh, they should export renewable energy as it is much cheaper than coal. Renewable energy is getting cheaper day by day in India."
Sreedhar Ramamurthi from India, managing trustee of Environics Trust, said that Adani-Godda coal power project is being constructed on fertile land and water will be taken from the rivers, which they are not allowed to do.
Santal communities are being evicted for the project while the lists of scams on Adani are endless, he added.
Indian journalist Abir Dasgupta, Bangladesh Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, climate justice activist Tonni Nowshin, researcher Sajjad Hossain Tuhin, BWGED member secretary Hasan Mehedi also spoke at the virtual seminar.
The webinar was moderated by Indian climate activist Vidya Dinkar.