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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

No development projects destroying the Sundarbans

TRANSPARENCY International Bangladesh has called upon the government to immediately suspend all controversial projects, including the Rampal Power Plant near the Sundarbans. TIB also expressed deep concern following the UNESCO's recent proposal to put the Sundarbans on the list of "World Heritage in Danger" in the proposed agenda for its 43rd session to be held at Baku in Azerbaijan. It also urged the government to take into consideration the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's recommendation to conduct a Strategic Environment Assessment and draw up a time-bound action plan, according to recent media reports.
"We think such a situation has been created as the government overlooked the concern and suggestions about implementing such a risky project near the Sundarbans without conducting any Strategic Environment Assessment," TIB Executive Director said. TIB demanded suspension of all the activities on building coal-based power plants in Rampal, Taltoli and Kolapara immediately before the upcoming Baku meeting.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the official advisor on natural World Heritage, recommends for three natural sites to be listed as "World Heritage in Danger": the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, Mexico's Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California and the Ohrid region in North Macedonia. That means IUCN's concern about the Sundarbans is nothing personal or a hostile attitude. IUCN's explanation is clear. It said there are severe threats from coal-fired power plants and numerous industrial activities in close proximity while the site is part of the world's largest mangrove forest and home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
It's hard to understand why government has taken so rigid stance for constructing power plant and other industries in this sensitive area despite severe protests from several organisations at home and abroad. Development is necessary for a nation and generating power is an obvious part of the development. But how could a civilised nation conduct development activities destroying its natural assets and heritage?  If there is even a little possibility of harming the nature; we do urge the government to rethink about it.