Sundarbans exposed to risks
THE concerns expressed by UNESCO's World Heritage Site for the Sundarbans should draw serious attention of the government. A prominent Bangla daily reported that the UN body fears that construction of Rampal power plant near the Sundarbans, navigation of large containers through it and establishment of industries near the forest will pose threats to the already vulnerable mangrove forest. The mangroves are of immense geo-morphological and economic importance for the country. The Sundarbans also acts as a natural wall against fury of natural disasters. People in general, independent experts, environmental organizations and media, both local and international, have been expressing their concern over the projects in many ways. The government claims that it is seized of the issues but is yet to come out with any comprehensive answer to the questions raised.
Not just Rampal power project, the government is going for more power plants and allured by establishment of power plants near Sundarbans, an array of industries violating environmental laws is on the drawing board. Previously, this newspaper revealed the government's allowing industrialists to purchase land in areas adjacent to Sundarbans and providing site clearance to install industries uncomfortably generously. The UN organization has called upon the government to revisit these initiatives and urged for “comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of development in the Sundarban” before undertaking any development project near the ecologically sensitive area.
We think that the concerns and suggestion flagged off by Unesco's World Heritage Site merit urgent measures. Bangladesh being very vulnerable to climate change can hardly overlook the importance of her most precious coastal natural resource.