On June 29, while speaking in the parliament, PM criticised those who opposed the construction of the coal based power plant near the Sundarbans. We have learnt from news reports that three French banks have decided not to invest in the Rampal project as this project violates the environmental impact assessment guidelines for coal-based thermal power plants. On August 1, 2013 Department of Energy of Bangladesh approved the construction, but then changed its stance and set 50 preconditions for the project. But the location of the plant, 14 kilometres from the Sundarbans, violates one of the basic preconditions, which says such projects must be outside a 25-kilometre radius from the outer periphery of an ecologically sensitive area.
The plant will need to import 4.72 million tons of coal per year. This massive freight will need about 59 ships—each having a capacity of 80,000 ton that would be taken to the port on the bank of Poshur river. The 40 kilometres from the port to the plant cuts through the Sundarbans and it includes the river flow path. Environmentalists say these coal-carrying vehicles are not often covered as they scatter large amounts of fly ash, coal dust, sulfur and other toxic chemicals which will be released throughout the life of the project. Environment and ecology experts predict that the plant will release toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dioxide, thereby putting the surrounding areas and, most importantly, the Sundarbans at grave risk.
According to a report published in New Age, in the past few years the Indian central and state authorities which deal with environmental concerns in India denied the proposal of NTPC to set up a similar coal-fired thermal power plant at Gajmara in Gadarwara of Madhya Pradesh over a number of points. NTPC failed to get approval of the Indian Central Green Panel (Green Tribunal) in 2010 for the construction of that coal-fired thermal power plant because the site comprised a vast double-crop agricultural land, a situation
similar to Rampal.
Nur Jahan, Chittagong