The environmentalists and experts urged the JS (Jatiya Sangsad) committee to halt the power plant implementation activities and formulate policies to protect the Sundarbans, the largest Mangrove forest. The environmentalists and Sundarbans activists also demanded another EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) conducted by intl. reputed expert agency while they were specially invited to a meeting organized by the ‘parliamentary standing committee on the power ministry’.
In its 23rd meeting held on Thursday, the parliamentary committee recommended cautionary measures for protecting the ecological system of the Sunderbans while implementing the Rampal power project. The committee also suggested an acceleration of the implementation work of the plant by following all the rules and conditions of the environment department based on the research reports and opinions of the economic, social, technical and technological experts.
However, the environmentalists and Sundarbans activists have been claiming that the power plant of Rampal which is just 14km upstream to the Sundarbans would cause irrecoverable damages to the fauna and flora and the ecology of the great Sundarbans. They demanded immediate cancellation of the project and have another detailed EIA study or relocate the plant site farther from Sundarbans.
The Parliamentary Committee chairman Bazlul Haq Harun chaired the meeting. State minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, Power Cell Director General Muhammad Hossain and BIFPCL (Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited) Managing Director Ujjal Kanti Bhattacharjee were present at the meeting.
On the other hand, The Energy Adviser to CAB (Consumers Association of Bangladesh) Dr M Shamsul Alam, the member secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports Prof Anu Mohammad, Dhaka University faculty Prof Dr Badrul Imam from dept of Geology, BELA (Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association) chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan and the member of National Committee to Protect Sundarbans Sharif Jamil made the remarks during a meeting with the members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee
Anu Muhammad said that a policy should be formulated as soon as possible to protect the Sundarbans. “Electricity is one of the most important prerequisites to the development of a country, but we should not go for it if it comes in exchange for the one and only Sundarbans”, said Anu Muhammad.
Shamsul Alam remarked that the government’s EIA report was neither a fully scientific nor a truly expert study report as most of the personnel behind it were only government officials, not experts. The EIA should be done by any of the world-recognized expert authorities. Till then the implementation process of the power plant should be halted.
On the contrary, the government officials claimed that the project has been moving forward by maintaining the highest possible standards and there are almost no possibilities of any harm to Sundarbans. Nasrul Hamid said that the highest possible technology will be used in materializing the power plant of Rampal. The site selected for the plant is the best site for implementing a coal-fired power plant without damaging the Sundarbans, he claimed.