Sundarban: To be or not to be on Unesco 'Heritage in Danger' list
Govt to inform WHC of initiatives taken to conserve the mangrove
Published : Tuesday, 20 July, 2021 at 12:00 AM Count : 883
The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of the Unesco will allow Bangladesh to submit all updated documents of the government initiatives taken for the conservation of the Sundarban by February 1 of 2022, to decide whether or not the Sundarban will be listed as "Heritage in Danger."
The WHC of Unesco published the draft report in its official website, however, the decision will be announced on July 21from the 44th session in Beijing in China after the formal virtual meeting with Bangladesh officials.
However, the WHC of Unesco made the same decision during its 43rd session in Baku in Azerbaijan.
Then it was said that the "WHC will evaluate those documents in its 44th session to be held in June-July next year (2021) and then decide the status of the World's largest mangrove forest the Sundarban in the 'Heritage List.'
Meanwhile, two proposed coal-fired power plants, the Unit 2 of the Rampal coal-fired power plant, did not get a go-ahead signal in consideration of their consequences.
Government is reviewing the impact on the ecology of about 154 industries and factories that are located in the vicinity of the Sundarban on the same ground although most of these factories were built during the 1960s and 70s, according to the Department of Environment (DoE).
Of the factories, 24 were in the 'Red Category,' meaning the factories could harm the environment, if not taken care of properly.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury will lead the Bangladesh team and describe the government initiatives taken to protect the Sundarban from the Rampal 1,320-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant's impact and other initiatives to protect the forest from other factories.
A 16-member committee led by Chowdhury will take part in the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of Unesco.
In line with the 43rd session decision, the government would not allow any big industry or power plant near the world's largest mangrove forest for the sake of its protection.
"The government plans to undertake a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) study on the Sundarban and its adjoining areas and submit the report by next year to the committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). As we need time to complete it for the Covid pandemic, they allowed us the time," a senior member of the Bangladesh team told the Daily Observer on Monday preferring anonymity.
An expert team of the Unesco committee is expected to visit the Sundarban and the adjoining areas, according to him.
According to the draft, the WHC once again regretted that the government was yet to finalise the National Oil Spill Chemical and Contingency Plan and provide further information and data on the monitoring of long-term impacts from shipping incidents involving spills of hazardous materials.
The WHC requested the government to implement the relevant recommendations of SEA and submit the necessary documents to the WHC Centre.
It also requested the government to implement the Tiger Action Plan and National Tiger Recovery Plan, expansion of the wildlife sanctuaries and the adoption of the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 to protect and expand the Sundarban.
However, the WHC also expressed concerns about the likely impacts of large-scale industrial projects around the Sundarban and requested the government to take all necessary mitigation measures as per the recommendations made earlier by the members of WHC Reactive Monitoring Mission, the draft said.