Activists in Dhaka protest against India-Bangladesh power plant

Dhaka, March 10 (IANS) Hundreds of Bangladeshi activists set off on a 200 km march from Dhaka to the Sundarbans on Thursday to protest against the $1.5 billion power plant near the world’s largest mangrove forests which straddle both Bangladesh and India.

The four-day march of environmentalists, and cultural and political activists started at Dhaka’s National Press Club and was being led by a platform of left-leaning political parties, social and cultural activists, experts and professionals — named the National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Xinhua reported.

Anu Muhammad, member secretary of the group, urged the government not to go ahead with the proposed 1,320-MGW plant, to be built in the area of Rampal in Bangladesh’s Bagerhat district.

According to the activists, discharge from the plant like fly ash and sulphur dioxide will have disastrous consequences for the fauna and flora of the mangrove forests — a UNESCO World Heritage site.

They also demanded that the Rampal Thermal Power Plant project in Bagerhat be shelved forever.

Amid severe criticism from many power experts and green activists, Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) and Indian National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) in April 2013 signed three major agreements heading towards implementation of the plant.

Under the deals, the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company, a joint venture between the PDB and the NTPC with 50:50 share, will implement the project in which officials claim that super critical technology would be used to curb the much talked about carbon emission.

The plant was initially put into motion in a bilateral agreement between Dhaka and Delhi during Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in 2011 reportedly without proper environmental impact assessment.

The Bangladeshi government later released an environmental impact assessment on the power plant but was rejected by the environmentalists who argued that the report did not take into consideration most of the important environmental aspects of the Sundarbans.

The National Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports also staged similar protest march toward Sundarbans in September 2013.

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