Experts denounce Bagerhat coal-fired power plant planAdmin
The proposed Bangladesh-India joint venture to set up a coal-fired power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat might destroy Sundarban, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests, said experts and environmental activists.
Sadrul Amin, former dean of Haji Danesh Science and Technology University, told New Age that the project would destroy the ingredients of the soil that support the lives of millions of inhabitants of a large region, increase the proportion of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the air, and seriously harm the flora and fauna of Sundarban.
Faridul Islam, chief coordinator of Save the Sundarbans, pointed out that the selected location of the project was only nine kilometres from Sundarban, which would be disastrous to the World Heritage Site.
‘The area of Sundarban is shrinking for many reasons and the power project will accelerate the process,’ he added.
Citing the devastation caused by cyclones Sidr and Aila, Farid said that Sundarban would not be able to serve as a natural barrier to the protection of the people in a large area of the country’s coastal region from such calamities if the power plant is built because it would destroy the trees that are 3-8 metres high.
An independent team of experts from civil society led by Abdus Sattar, who is chairman of the environment science department of the Bangladesh Agriculture University, after visiting the proposed location of the project revealed their findings in which they said that the eco-system of Sundarban would be severely damaged for 23 reasons.
The Bangladesh Power
Development Board and the Indian National Thermal Power Corporation have decided to ink a deal and register a joint venture company with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms.
The power board signed a memorandum of understanding with NTPC in 2010 to set up two coal-fired power plants, each of which will have a capacity of 1,320MW, with partnership shared equally between them.
According to the report produced by the team of experts, the coal-fired power project will drastically reduce the diversity of vegetation, wildlife and micro-organisms.
The experts said that a huge amount of coal would be burnt by the power plants which would result in the discharge of an enormous volume of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide into the air.
The injurious particulate matter and sulphur dioxide discharged into the air would adversely affect the growth of plants and finally result in massive deforestation in the region.
Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide will cause acid rains that will destroy the living conditions by polluting the soil and air.
Deer and tigers as well as other living animals will face minor to major abnormalities in living conditions including a reduction in their hormonal and/or reproduction capacity.
The report also said that quality of the water of the nearby rivers would deteriorate and reduce number of shrimps and other fishes because of the degradation of habitat. Moreover, fish will become inedible due to increasing contamination and toxicity.
The loud noise produced by the plants will also affect the wildlife of Sundarban.
The number of visits by tourists will decrease drastically because of contamination of air, water and environment due to the smoke and other emissions of the coal-fired power plants.
Dark clouds of black fumes, smog and ashes will cover the region, posing a great danger to the human inhabitants and the flora and fauns.
The quality of the grass will change and ultimately affect the health of the herbivores, including cows whose milk will become unsuitable for consumption.
Shrimp production will be reduced tremendously due to increase of metals and chemicals like arsenic, lead, mercury in the water.
The team of experts also gave a summary of the resources of Sundarban that have 334 plant species of 245 genera, and where trees like sundari, gewa, keora, dhundol and passar are the major plant species.
The jungle is named Sundarban because of the presence of millions of sundari trees in the region.
There are reportedly 450 Royal Bengal Tigers, 50,000-80,000 spotted deer, 20,000 wild boars, 315 species of birds, 95 species of waterfowl, 38 species of raptors, 53 species of reptiles, 120 species of fish and 100 million mud crabs. The Sundarban crocodile still rules the rivers.
The report also said that 20,000 fisherman are dependent on the rivers and canals in the region. About 2.5 million human lives depend on Sundarban region where 3,00,000 people are working as wood-cutters, fishermen, honey hunters, golpata leaves and grass.
About 1,00,000 people visit Sundarban each year though tourist facilities are very poor.
Anu Mohammad, member secretary of the national committee to protect oil, gas, natural resources, power and ports, told New Age that they were also much concerned about the impact of the proposed power plants on Sundarban and areas in and around Mongla Port.
He called on the government to make public the feasibility study and stop repression of the local protesters. ‘Otherwise it will make people more suspicious and the situation will worsen,’ he added.
The power board assigned the NTPC to conduct the feasibility study in September 2010, and it will pay the Indian organisation $2,50,000 for its report which was submitted in April.
An official told New Age that the Power Development Board will be able to submit the environment impact assessment report to the environment department within two months.
Najmul Ahsan, deputy director of the environment department, told New Age that they had approved the terms of reference for the environment impact assessment for the project.