A vested group has started a fresh round of propaganda campaign against the Rampal coal fired power plant, which is much important for the development of country’s power sector. It’s assumed that, the agitators are misguided and instigated by a group of conspirators, who are active to defame Bangladesh internationally. As part of this campaign eight people staged a so called demonstration on thursday (17 October) in front of Bangladesh High-commission in London.
An unknown organization named ‘London Solidarity Action’ arranged the demonstration, but Bangladeshis, living in London didn’t respond them.
Prior to this campaign, many conspiratory activities were conducted from London against the developments of Bangladesh. A group of BNP-Jammat built base in London after being rejected by country’s people. Bangladeshis, living in London assume that, the rejected group started such wrong motivated campaign and propaganda against Rampal coal fired power plant and Sundarbans.
Bangladeshis in London called the demonstration of eight people ‘ridiculous’. Organizers alleged that, they were protesting because the Bangladesh government does not have the right to destroy the world’s largest mangrove forests in this way. UNESCO’s own research and investigations confirmed that the danger of Rampal coal fired project for the survival of the Sundarbans. The government has violated UNESCO’s recommendations and did not stop building coal plants and industrial constructions in the vicinity before a Strategic Environmental Assessment is completed.
But such statement was nothing but a well-planned propaganda. Because UNESCO first issued an objection concerning the matter in 2016. Later in July 2017, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO withdrew its earlier objection to the construction of Rampal power plant project at its current location near the Sundarbans after the government could be able to ensure that Sundarbans will not be harmed from the project.
It also gave details of the plant’s impact on environment and convinced UNESCO to understand that, environmental safety has been given the utmost priority in setting up the plant and there would be no negative impact on the Sundarbans.
According to specialists of respective sector, the power plant project is a joint venture initiative of Bangladesh and India. BPDB Bangladesh and NTPC India own 50:50 shares and interest in the Bangladesh India Friendship Coal Power Company. The Bangladesh government has selected the site at Rampal in Bagerhat District outside the exclusive zone of the Sundarbans mangrove forest, 14 kilometres away from the outer periphery of the forest. Bangladesh environment laws prohibit a setting up of such establishments within 10 km of protected structures. The location is also 69 km away from the UNESCO heritage site.
Many such coal fired power plants are being operated through maintaining environmental regulations and social balance in the proximity of reserve forests or in the heart of the city — in Australia, Germany, South Africa and Taiwan. In Gladstone, Queensland, Australia, a subcritical 1800 MW coal fired power plant has been under operation for 50 years in the city beside the waterway linked to the Great Barrier Reef. Coal is supplied to the plant by trains from mines as far as 400 km away. No air pollution or water pollution has been alleged. Two large coal ports handling 40% of Australia’s total coal export and three LNG plants are also located in Gladstone. Australia is the largest exporter of coal and all coal is transported through a narrow strip between the UNESCO world heritage Great Barrier Reef and the coast. The imaginary concerns of activists about the Rampal power plant, the Sundarbans are not tenable.
The land acquired for the plant was mostly fallow, barren and was mainly used for shrimp cultivation. Only a handful of affected land owners were required to be rehabilitated. Being situated beside the River Poshur, from all aspects it was considered ideal for an imported coal based power plant. The Bangladesh government selected the location. India or NTPC had nothing to do here regarding selection of the site. The location is now connected by road also. Not much agricultural land was needed, not many people required relocation and the plant is situated beside a river linked to the Bay of Bengal. From all considerations from an engineering point of view, the present location of the Rampal power plant is most ideal for a large imported coal based power plant.
Despite such strong stand of the government, conspirators didn’t stop their conspiracy. However, such conspiracy won’t be successful eventually, assume well-wishers of Bangladesh.