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Coal-based power plants threat to life

04 May 2015


Staff Reporter :
Environmentalists on Sunday said the coal based power plants have huge detrimental effect on the environment and ecosystem.
The use of coal to generate power causes great harm also to human life as the coal extraction requires a large scale eviction of people from their homesteads, they told the concluding day of the two-day conference on 'Coal Energy in Bangladesh: Impact on Water and Climate'.
Besides, it causes landslide, pollution in surface and underground waters, destruction of biodiversity and arable lands. So, the government should immediately abandon its plan to set coal based power plants in the country, they said.
Waterkeepers Bangladesh, National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS) and Waterkeeper Alliance jointly organized the programme at BRAC Inn centre in the city.
Sharif Jamil, representative of Waterkeepers Bangladesh, said the initiative is underway to set coal-based power plants in the country without having a proper guideline to this effect.
 "The government has long been planning to set a coal-based power plant at Rampal in the Sundarbans.  
 Another coal-based project 'Orion Power Plant' is being proposed under private initiative near Rampal. But, considering the ill-effect of the use of coal, the government should immediately abandon those plans," he said.
There is no policy in the country for the use of coal, Jamil said, adding the government should concentrate on the generation and use of renewable energy instead of setting up coal-based power plants.
The representative of Waterkeeper Alliance, a US based organization, Dona Ligen said coal as a fuel is very unclean. "There is a misconception that coal as a source of energy is very cheap. But if we take its harmful effect on the environment and biodiversity into account, it costs much more than other sources," she said.
 "Coal pollutes the environment every stage of its use -- from its extraction to transportation, preservation and burning. People are recollected from their places for the extraction of coal from the mines. Due to the digging in large areas, the surface and underground waters are being polluted. It also causes landslide. The ashes coming from the burning of coal destroy the biodiversity and crop lands," she noted.
Putting aside the plans of setting up coal-based power plants, especially in the ecologically vulnerable areas, the government should formulate a coordinated policy for the use of coal in power generation as well as other sectors, the convener of NCSS Sultana Kamal said.
 "In order to protect the Sundarbans, the greatest mangrove forest in the world, the government should take initiative to close down the Rampal and Orion power plants. The UNESCO has declared the Sundarbans as a world heritage site. It is situated in extreme ecological vulnerable areas. We have to protect it, stepping back from all anti-environmental activities from that area," she said. 
The green campaigners also underscored the need for an independent study on the effect of coal to determine its effect on public health and environment.
Among others, Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, Professor Ainun Nishat, Professor Anu Mohammad, Professor MM Akash and Dr Abdul Matin also spoke in the two-day conference. 

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