Bangladesh citizens’ forum holds protest against power plant in Sundarbans

Dhaka, Aug 20 (IANS) A Bangladesh citizens’ group held a day-long protest on Saturday against the Rampal power plant project in the Sundarbans being jointly executed with India.

The 1,000-odd protesters of the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources-Power and Ports warned the Bangladesh government not to persist with the coal-fired power plant that environmentalists say will badly damage the Sundarbans mangroves.

The protesters, who also comprised many Left groups, plan to submit an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and to hold a rally in front of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka soon, according to the Daily Star.

The Oil Gas Protection Committee announced it will hold a “Cholo, Cholo Dhaka Cholo” (March to Dhaka) on November 24 if the government does not cancel the Rampal project by then.

The committee, during the daylong sit-in held at Shaheed Minar, also announced plans to hold a grand rally in the capital on November 26, as well as rallies at divisional and district headquarters through September, October and November.

The members staged patriotic dramas, sang songs and recited poems during the sit-in.

Columnist Syed Abul Maksud and other prominent personalities addressed the gathering.

Environmental groups and experts have protested against the 1,320 MW Rampal power plant in association with India’s NTPC, while private firm Orion Group is constructing a 566 MW plant near the Sundarbans.

“This power plant in Rampal (in the southern district of Bagerhat) will have to stop. The movement we had started will not be silenced. I ask the government to weigh the consequences of the project,” Communist Party of Bangladesh President Mujahidul Islam Selim said.

Selim added that the movement will go on. “We will continue our movement even if it means changing our political priorities.”

India and Bangladesh inked an agreement in July this year to set up the thermal power plant in Bagerhat’s Rampal near the Sunderbans. The two countries will have a 50-50 partnership in the venture styled Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited.

On Friday, opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia also demanded that Dhaka scrap the project.

Environmentalists say the power plant would cause extensive damage to the world’s largest mangrove forest in the Sundarbans as well as affect the locals living nearby.

–IANS

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