Govt clears stance

Rampal plant won’t hamper environ

27 October 2015


Anisul Islam Noor :
Bangladesh government is determined to implement proposed 1320 megawatt coal-fired power station at Rampal Upazila of Bagerhat District in Khulna under the auspices of joint-venture Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt.) Limited (BIFPCL).
According to the government, the power plant would not hamper environment and bio-diversity of the Sunderbans as the BIFPCL is going to set up most sophisticated technological applications along with environment friendly method.
Expressing determination, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid on Monday said the country's largest power plant will be constructed on an area of over 1834 acres of land, which is about 14 kilometres north of the Sundarbans.
"A section of people are spreading confusion about the power plant, though all environmental issues will be preserved in the project areas", he said.
The State Minister was addressing a press briefing that arranged apparently to clear the government latest stance regarding the project.
"The proposed power plant is a joint partnership between India's state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh
Power Development Board. But some groups and organizations are spreading misleading and baseless propaganda against the power plant," he said.
Explaining the safe environmental condition, he said, the plant is located in a safe area from the Sunderbans. "The distance of the plant from the UNESCO World Heritage is 69 Km and 14 Km. from the outer boundary of the Sunderbans. So, there is no scope to become confused about the location of the power plant and the Sunderbans," Nasrul Hamid said.
The power plant would reduce the dependency of the local people on the Sunderbans. Various facilities will be created once the project is implemented. The area will be developed. The people of the country will get employment, which will expedite overall socio-economic development and will thus play a key role in building a happy and prosperous Bangladesh, he further said.
Giving example of Germany and Indonesia the minister said, "Modern ultra-Super Thermal Technology would be used in the plant, which will prevent emission of harmful dark smoke and ash. While transporting to the plant the coal will be covered. So water or air will not be polluted. The water will be processed through improved technology. No polluted or hot water will be discharged to the river. A small portion of the water of River Pashur will be used, which in no way will affect the river."
"BIFPCL would like to assure all that there would not be any single activities from our side which may hamper environment and bio-diversity of the Sunderbans. The company is going to establish it in most environment friendly manner with latest technological applications," said Ujjal Kanti Bhattacharya Managing Director of the Power Plant.
This power plant being established by following all rules, regulations of Bangladesh Govt and complying to standards of international organization as well as the Department of Environment of Bangladesh.  All, including human beings, Sunderbans and its bio-diversities, Pashur River, birds and fishes are totally safe from this power plant, he said.
Earlier, on August 1, 2013 Department of Energy of Bangladesh approved construction, but then changed its stance and set 50 preconditions for the project. It said the location of the plant violates one of the basic preconditions and such projects must be outside a 25-kilometer radius from the outer periphery of an ecologically sensitive area.
Meanwhile, the concerned circle said the Rampal station is against the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Convention is the only global environmental treaty that deals with the preservation of wetlands. Bangladesh signed the convention in 1992. Sundarbans and Tanguar Haor are marked as Ramsar area.The authority of the global body expressed worry about the proposed plant, the concerned circle said.
According to an official estimation, the plant will need to import 4.72 million tons of coal per year. This massive freight will need about 59 ships each having 80,000-ton capacity that would be taken to the port on the bank of Poshur river. The 40 kilometers from the port to the plant cuts through the Sundarbans and it includes the river flow path.
Environmentalists say these coal-carrying vehicles are not often covered as they scatter large amounts of fly ash, coal dust and sulfur, and other toxic chemicals are released throughout the life of the project.
The predictions made by environment and ecology experts are that the plant will release toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dioxide, thereby putting the surrounding areas and, most importantly, Sundarban at grave risk, they added.
A recent study report said, in 2010 the Indian central and state authorities which deal with environmental concerns in India denied the proposal of NTPC to set up a similar coal-fired thermal power plant at Gajmara in Gadarwara of Madhya Pradesh over a number of points.
NTPC also failed to get approval of the Indian Central Green Panel (Green Tribunal) for the construction of that coal-fired thermal power plant because a vast portion of double-crop agricultural land reportedly comprised the site, a similar situation to Rampal, the study report added.

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