Bangladesh has no alternative to the Sundarbans, but the country definitely has alternative to power plants, said Anu Mohammad, member secretary of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports.
Anu, a professor of Jahangirnagar University, made the observation in a rally held at Katakhali crossing of Bagerhat on Khulna-Mongla Highway on Sunday.
The rally was held marking the ending of four-day marching to Sundarbans protesting the government’s move to construct a 1320 megawatt coal-based power plant and other industrial units near the mangrove forest Sundarbans.
Earlier in the day, they held a procession in the town after returning from Khulna.
“The power plant cannot be set up in Rampal of Sundarbans, putting some 40 million people of the coastal areas in trouble,” said Anu.
“The government is saying that the Rampal project will create a huge employment opportunities but the fact is that some one million people will fall in job risks if the plant is implemented here,” he claimed.
The government is making the people fool by spreading the propaganda of mega employment opportunities, he said.
The leaders of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports are leading the began the march programme on Thursday in Dhaka.
Several thousand activists of different left-leaning parties, mainly of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB), Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BSD), Workers Party and Ganosanghati Andolon, joined the event with a convoy of 10 buses and seven microbuses.
During the march, the protesters distributed leaflets, posters and booklets among the people while cultural activists performed songs with a call to save the Sundarbans – a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Ltd (BIFPCL), a joint venture of PDB and NTPC of India, is developing the 1320MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Project at Rampal which will use imported coal. Besides, local firm Orion Group is building a 566MW power plant in Rampal area.
The National Committee has long been opposing the coal plants saying that the projects would pose major threat on the biodiversity of the forest, life of the water species and livelihood of the people who depend on the forest's resources.
They also protest the government plan to establish an economic zone, cement factories, shipyards and silo near the power plants.
The government, however, claims that the projects would not harm the Sundarbans as they would use advanced technology to cut emission of hazardous gases including carbon dioxide, fine particles and fly ash, and properly dispose the solid and liquid wastes.
A 12-member Indian delegation comprising environmental activists, writers and journalists joined the mass procession on March 10.
Moreover, green activists held a rally in London on Friday while another rally was held in Amsterdam of the Netherlands yesterday to express solidarity with the programme.
The Unesco, the Ramsar and other local and international environment experts have expressed concerns regarding the projects.
A Unesco delegation of experts is likely to visit Bangladesh this month to learn about Dhaka’s initiatives to tackle the environmental impacts of the Rampal coal power plant.