Environmentalists and representatives of the civil society on Friday urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to jointly announce termination of the Rampal power plant in Bagerhat district on the south-west of Bangladesh.
They made such an appeal on the eve of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh on June 6 and 7. Eminent economist Prof Anu Muhammad said that the project near the Sundarban would not only destroy the world's largest mangrove forest but also trigger drought in the southern part of Bangladesh.
Referring to the cyclones Sidr and Aila in 2007-2009, Prof Muhammad said both the governments should realize that during the natural calamities, the coastal part of Bangladesh and West Bengal of India could be totally destroyed. But it did not happen as the Sundarban put up a barrier and protected vast areas from the disasters.
"Both of the government should terminate the Rampal coal fired power plant in the greater interest of the country. This power plant will ruin the ecological and biodiversity of the Sundarban. And we have to keep in mind that when Sundarban will face any difficulty Bangladesh's southern part and Indian's West Bengal will not remain safe from adverse impacts," said Prof Muhammad, also member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports.
Clarifying a recent statement of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, he noted that PM had observed that all environmentalists and experts were against the project because of India's involvement.
The prime ministers of Bangladesh and India unveiled the plaque of the foundation stone of the 1,320 MW Friendship Super Thermal Power Project, popularly known as Rampal coal-fired power plant, on October 4, 2013.
The Sundarban is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprising Bangladesh and eastern India.
Dr Abdul Matin, Member Secretary of National Committee for Saving the Sundarban, said that through implementing the power plant project, Bangladesh government will violate Ecologically Critically Area (ECA) Acts, Bangladesh Environment Conservation Rules, Forest Acts and Convention on Biological Diversity as well as the Constitution of Bangladesh.
How could both the governments want to justify this project when people's mandate is absent, questioned Dr Matin, also General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon.
Advocate Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, said, "We feel sad when we see high government officials of both the countries support this project despite knowing its bad impacts on environment and human health.
Referring to the article 18A of the Constitution of Bangladesh, she said it states, "The state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to preserve and safeguard the natural resources, bio-diversity, wetlands, forests and wild life for the present and future citizens," but in reality what we see? She asked.
She suggested the project should be postponed until environment experts of the two countries agree on its impacts.
Abu Naser, Chairman of the POBA, said that apart from harmful substances, it will also release huge amount of hot water which will destroy freshwater dolphins and various species of fish in the water bodies surrounding the Sundarban.
He also suggested that environment experts and green activists of both countries should raise their voices in this connection.