As part of a global day of action and in solidarity with the Save the Sundarbans movement, protests were held yesterday in Bangladesh as well as USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Germany, Norway, Finland, Italy, France, Canada and South Korea.
New York based Bangladeshi environmental groups Friends of the Earth US and allies held a protest in Union Square Park yesterday in New York city.
They were protesting the Rampal Power Plant, calling for all development of coal plants near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to be stopped immediately.
This global protests were called during the grand rally against the power plant on November 26 organised by the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources Power and Port.
Protests were also held in Dhaka’s Shahbag area where Shorbopran Sangskritik Shakti brought out a rally in front of National Museum.
The National Committee member Secretary Professor Anu Muhammad said: “Environmental devastation in one part of the world directly affects another part of the world because nature has no borders and this is why people across the world took the streets to save the Sundarbans a crucial component of the global eco-system.”
Tapu Ahmed Muniruddin, an activist of the Save the Sundarbans movement said that the global protests were a clear indication of global solidarity to save the mangrove forest.
Zonayed Saki, coordinator of Gana Shanhati Andolon was adamant of the movement’s success saying that they will fight until the project is cancelled.
“People will not tolerate it anymore. Everything cannot be done by just muscle power! We need global support to show the government that the world is united in this cause,” he said.
The project has been heavily criticised by experts and environmentalists who opine that the plant will cause irrevocable damage to the Sundarbans forest.
The 1320MW Rampal coal-fired power plant is soon to be built within miles of the Sundarbans, home to thousands of indigenous communities as well as endangered species, including the Bengal tiger and Irawaddy dolphin.
The plant will also make some 50 million coastal people more vulnerable to natural disasters, as the Sundarbans is a natural safeguard against frequent cyclones, storms and other natural disasters.
In October 2016 the United Nations World Heritage Committee issued a report urging the Bangladeshi government to cancel the Rampal coal plant due to the threat it poses to the Sundarbans.
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) Australia also urged President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to desist from the construction of a project that will not only endanger the lives of the communities near the said power facility but will also contribute to the climate crisis and deepen the vulnerability of Bangladesh to the effects of climate change.
A half-day hartal has been declared on January 26 by the National Committee if the government does not stop the construction of the plant.