Calls upon campaigners to visit how far the site from Sundarbans
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday lashed out at the anti-Rampal power plant campaigners saying those who are agitating ‘in Dhaka’ have no idea how far the site is from the Sundarbans.
“Visit Rampal and see how far it is from the Sundarbans. I would advise the protestors to march from Rampal to the Sundarbans then they will get an idea,” she said. Coming down heavily once again on the quarter campaigning against the power plant, the premier said the protesters were ‘shedding tears’ for the Royal Bengal Tigers, ignoring the ‘benefit to the people’. She reiterated that the power plant will not harm the largest mangrove forest in the world.
The prime minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 57th National Convention of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) at its Chittagong centre. IEB President Engineer Kabir Ahmed Bhuiyan and General Secretary Engineer Mohammad Abdus Sabur also spoke on the occasion.
Engineer Sadeque Mohammad Chowdhury, chairman of IEB Centre, Chittagong, delivered the welcome address, while Prabir Sen, general secretary of IEB, Chittagong centre, gave vote of thanks. Earlier this month, when the issue was raised by environment activist and former US vice president Al Gore during a plenary session at the World Economic Forum, Hasina invited Gore to visit Bangladesh to see it for himself.
The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources and Ports, which is leading the protests, has observed an eight-hour general strike in Dhaka on Thursday. The 1320 MW coal-based power plant in Bagerhat’s Rampal Upazila, a joint venture of India and Bangladesh, is currently under construction.
The proximity of the plant and likely damage to the Sundarbans prompted protests from several left-leaning organizations from the beginning.Environmentalists say the plant would be a significant threat to the Sundarbans, which UNESCO designated a World Heritage site.
But the government has refuted the environmentalists’ concern and repeatedly said that the project would not affect the forest.
Defending the construction of the power plant, Sheikh Hasina also said the Rampal Power Plant is being set up in Rampal, not in the Sundarbans.
“The plant is being built around 14 kilometers away from the outer boundary of the Sundarbans and about 70 kilometers away from the world heritage site. So there is no possibility of causing any damage to the Sundarbans,” she said.
The premier has said when her government is working for the country and the people, the quarter at that time is raising objection about Rampal Power Plant from the capital and carrying out campaign across the world against the plant.
“They are conducting campaign by sitting in the capital…they never visited Rampal in their life,” she said. In this connection, the prime minister said a barge with 1000 MT coal sank near the Sundarbans recently. “Whether the environmentalists did any examination about the impact of barge capsizing … they should have visited the site to verify its impact.” she added.
Sheikh Hasina said her government had taken all kinds of measures to protect the environment of the Sundarbans and the surrounding areas as well as to protect the habitat and biodiversity of that region.
Explaining the preventive measures, she said coal would be transported to the power plant site from deep sea in covered barges, while covered and low-sound engines will be used in the barges and therefore “there is no possibility of environment pollution”.
Referring to the construction of Barapukuria coal-fired power plant in Dinajpur, Sheikh Hasina said her government started setting up coal-fired power plants in Barapukuria in 2000.
She said there was no negative impact on the densely populated and green area of Barapukuria though two sub-critical plants were constructed there. The land of the area has become more fertile and more rice is being produced there, she said.
Source: Asian Age, Dhaka, Bangladesh