Hasina, AL Gore verbal duel on Rampal
Published : Sunday, 22 January, 2017 at 12:00 AM Count : 888
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home on Saturday after a four-day visit to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) Summit where Bangladesh was rated as a "slowly advancing" country and put ahead of India and Pakistan. This has reflected Bangladesh's success in economic development during Sheikh Hasina's government and under her able leadership despite having faced many obstacles from her opponents within and outside the realm of politics.
In Davos, she was confronted by former US Vice-President Al Gore, a renowned environmentalist, who rather off the agenda raised questions about Bangladesh's Rampal coal-fired power plant which is far away from the Sundarban mangrove forest, a World Heritage site. The 3,200 MW power plant being implemented under a deal signed with India has met with increadibe amount of criticism by the opposition BNP, environment protection groups in the country including one led by eminent economist Dr Anu Mohammad. Also among the protesters are the country's left political partries with virtually no clout in politics or representations in parliament or government. But together they are clamouring to stop the Rampal project citing unconfirmed threats to the very existence of the forest and its possible impact on ecological diversity. The government persistently denied the allegations.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the concerned minister and officials have repeatedly said the Rampal project, which is 14 km away from the Sundarban's periphery and 70 km from the World Heritage site, is being built with most modern technolgy and utmost caution so it won't be harmful to the forest, on lives in and around it or the ecological balance of the area. Yet protesters would keep shouting at Rampal project trying vainly to thwart the crucial plant.
Not only they pursued the anti-Rampal campaign in the country but lobbied intensely with international anti-climate change campaigners including ex-US Vice-President Al Gore that he rather indecorously insisted on a Bangladesh project at the WEF Plenary Session in Davos in presence of the Prime Minister. Al Gore raised the issue wthout knowing the ground realities. Bangladesh needs power and energy for development and welfare of the country and its people and it has to turn on coal-fired projects as natural gas supply is depleting and running power plants with imported fuel becomes extremely costly. That's where Bangladesh needs the Rampal power plant to come up soon.
Talking about the issue, Al Gore probably forgot his political acumen and diplomatic nicety surely provoked by the anti-government forces and nagging environmentalists. Al Gore and his Bangladeshi "comrades" have had no concern about the fact that US and other developed nations are pushing to "death" millions of people including in Bangladesh by endless emission of harmful gas into the air for their own comfort. Instead they are losing their sleep over internal matters of smaller countries like the Rampal plant in Bangladesh.
As Al Gore was engaged in a verbal debate with the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, an international news outlet reported that US-led western forces had dropped three bombs every hour in 2016 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and other countries, killing or maiming thousands of mostly innocent people that sadly does not concern Al Gore or others in US administration during and after President Bill Clinton - during the rules of President George W Bush and Barack Obama. They don't take any shame or express remorse over the barabaric military missions while they love to "interfere" in matters completely of Bangladesh's own.
We must thank Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her bold response to Al Gore and inviting him to visit Bangladesh to see the Rampal project for himself. Then he would find the truth and maybe accept the reality.
The WEF Summit in Davos stretched beyond its own purview - touching upon migration, climate woes, microcredit etc. When it comes to Bangladesh we are convinced to believe that the issues are whispered to their ears of international community by enemies of the Bangladesh government - who intend to foil Bangaladesh's steady march towards becoming a middle-income country by 2021 and develoiped country by 2041. Bangladesh has become an eye sore to many local and global fugures like Al Gore.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also shunted off a Pakistani woman participant at the Davos Summit who raised questions about the trial and hanging of 1971 war criminals in Bangladesh. The Prime Minister responded by saying, "Whom you (Pakistani woman) term senior citizens, sent to the gallows, were responsible for killing, rape and torture of millions of people in Bangladesh (what was then the eastern part of Pakistan)." The Prime Minister also asked the woman to know history first before making comments.
Local critics and opponents of Sheikh Hasina should take note of her performances in Switzerland where she aptly displayed her political acumen, knowledge and sagacity in everything concerning Bangladesh and its history. The opponents of Rampal or for that matter any other project to ensure and expedite Bangladesh's development are enemies of the country, the Prime Minister said. She urged all to remain aware about their evil designs.