The prime minister's Energy Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury has said Bangladesh won the hearing on Rampal power plant at Unesco based on logical arguments under specific conditions.
Criticising environment activists, Tawfiq-e-Elahi said on Sunday at a press conference organised in Biddut Bhaban, “They did not give us a ruling based on whim. Unesco has withdrawn its objection because of our reasonable arguments and practical reasons.”
The World Heritage Committee of Unesco has withdrawn its earlier objection to the construction of Rampal power plant project, and agreed upon setting a few conditions, the adviser said.
The press conference was organised to let people know what happened in the meeting with Bangladeshi delegate team and the World Heritage Committee of Unesco committee.
A total of 12 countries including Turkey and Finland were in favour of Bangladesh in this hearing, Tawfiq-e-Elahi said at the conference.
Also Read- Govt: Unesco backtracks from Rampal stance
The coal-based Rampal power plant is to fulfill demand of the electricity in South-East region which will start producing electricity from June 2019 in it’s first phase.
On July 5, Unesco's World Heritage Committee, during the 41st session being held in Krakow, Poland requested Bangladesh to submit a report, adopting 11 recommendations for the Sundarbans.
The committee praised Bangladesh’s decision not to approve the Orion power plant and Phase II of the power plant project. It also lauded the country’s initiative to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of its south-west region, including the Sundarbans.
In its fourth recommendation, the committee asked Bangladesh to ensure that any large-scale industrial and/or infrastructure development (including the Rampal power plant) is not allowed to proceed before the SEA has been completed.
After completing the SEA, Bangladesh has to submit its report to the WHC, which would be reviewed by the IUCN.
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Prime Minister's Energey Adviser Tawfiq-e-Elahi briefs media on the outcome of recent Unseco meeting in Poland, in which the global committee monitoring heritage site status backtracked from it's previous stance PID
According to the recommendation, Bangladesh cannot build any infrastructure near the Sundarbans until the SEA report is submitted and the IUCN reviews it.
The committee also asked Bangladesh and India to follow the recommendations made by the Reactive Monitoring Mission in March 2016.
The WHC, through the eighth recommendation, urged Bangladesh to put in place a shipping management system to minimise the negative impact on the Sundarbans. It also asked Bangladesh to draft “National Oil Spill and Chemical Contingency Plan” (NOSCOP).
The committee criticised Bangladesh as it did not update the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for dredging the Passur River to include an assessment of impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, as requested by the WHC.
The committee also concluded that the coal-fired power plant has a high likelihood of impact on the Sundarbans arising from air and water pollution, a substantial increase in shipping and dredging, and additional removal of freshwater from an already increasingly saline environment.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi, who led the Bangladesh delegation in the session, agreed to conduct the SEA and submit the report on time, saying that they would fulfil the recommendations.