The National Committee to Protect the Sundarbans yesterday called upon the government to stop all advertisements in favour of Rampal power plant, reiterating its demand for immediately cancelling the project.
“I have seen at least two advertisements [in favour of the project]. Those were based on totally false information. I think it should stop,” Sultana Kamal, convener of the committee, said at a press conference held at Jatiya Press Club.
“We have already discussed the matter. These advertisements are misleading and made on the basis of deceptive publicity which has already been carried out,” she added. “Besides, the advertisements are being telecast at the cost of taxpayers' money, which is also a concern for us.”
The National Committee, a platform of 53 non-government organisations working for environment, forest, development, climate, law and social justice, organised the press conference to place their opinions and demands on the latest condition of the Rampal project and the government stance.
The 1,320-megawatt coal-fired power project, which is being jointly implemented by Bangladesh and India some 14 kilometres off the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and a World Heritage Site, has drawn widespread criticism and protests from different quarters at home and abroad.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) urged the government to relocate the plant to a “more suitable location” where it would not have a negative impact on the Sundarbans.
Expressing concerns, the UN body said the World Heritage Site and its biodiversity would be dangerously affected if the coal-based power plant were built in Rampal.
Sultana Kamal said Bangladesh is one of the worse victims of climate change, while the Sundarbans is the country's “main protector” from natural disasters caused by the climate changes.
“Yet, the government has taken a suicidal and self-contradictory step to push the Sundarbans into decay by constructing a coal-based power plant,” said Sultana Kamal, adding, “Actually, Bangladesh's stance on the Sundarbans and climate change is contradictory.”
Citing media reports, she said the managing director of Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Ltd, which is setting up the plant, has recently admitted that they were going to construct the plant with Super Critical Technology (SCT). But, they had earlier claimed that they would construct the project with Ultra Super Critical Technology (USCT).
His [the MD's] admission proved that they had tried to mislead people by talking about USCT and it was more regrettable that they had even dared to give false information about the project through Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said Sultana Kamal and demanded removal of the MD.
Prof MM Akash of Dhaka University said like the UN body, they are also asking the government for relocation of the project.
Transparency International, Bangladesh's Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said the UN secretary general has already signed a Unesco report, which was prepared on arguments based on science and proper information. So, the government should cancel the project near the Sundarbans, he said.
Prof Badrul Imam of DU, rights activist Khushi Kabir, Communist Party of Bangladesh leader Ruhin Hossain Prince, among others, spoke at the press conference, which was moderated by National Committee's member secretary Abdul Matin.