Rampal power project won’t affect Sundarbans: Sheikh Hasina

Dhaka, Aug 27 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said that the Rampal power plant project, being jointly built with India, will not affect the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarbans.

The agreement to build a 1,320 megawatt coal fired power plant near the Sundarbans was inked by India and Bangladesh on July 12 this year as part of bilateral cooperation to mark the transition from electricity export to generation level.

Citing several facts and logic in favour of the project, Hasina expressed her government’s firm determination to build the power plant to meet the demand for electricity, the Daily Star reported.

The premier was briefing the media at her official residence Gono Bhaban in Dhaka on the Rampal project close to the Sundarbans amid concerns over the coal fired plant’s environmental impact on the forest.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has been alleging that the Hasina government is constructing the Rampal plant, located near the Sundarbans, for the interest of India despite knowing that it is harmful to the mangrove forests. The party had held protests against the construction of the plant in July.

Hasina described Khaleda as an instigator for influencing people against the power plant.

“A group of the vested quarter is confusing people by spreading baseless and fabricated information over the issue,” Hasina said.

Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt) Limited (BIFPCL), the joint venture enterprise, inked the deal with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL).

India’s Exim Bank is to provide $1.49 billion for the project, scheduled to start generating power in 2019.

In August 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) where they agreed to launch the project by this year.

The NTPC and the BPDB agreed to implement the project on a 50-50 equity basis.

The project would enhance both nations ability to generate electricity.

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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