Bangladesh: stop the Rampal power project

Bangladesh's threatened Sundarbans forest, photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)

Bangladesh’s threatened Sundarbans forest, photo Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Pete Mason, Barking and Dagenham Socialist Party

The world’s largest mangrove forest lies on the deltas of three rivers: the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. In this area of outstanding natural beauty called the Sundarbans, the Bangladeshi government plans to site a coal-fired power plant.

A 400-kilometre “Long March” from the capital, Dhaka, to the Sundarbans in the district of Bagherhat took place, organised by the Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh. Meetings were held in the towns and villages on the way.

The Rampal project could destroy the forest. Every year the power plant would pollute the atmosphere with 52,000 tons of toxic sulphur dioxide, 30,000 tons of nitrogen dioxide and a million tons of ash, just a few kilometres from the mangrove forest. It will change the salinity and temperature of the water in the area.

Threatened lives

The Rampal project threatens the lives and livelihoods of the rural poor in the region. The mangroves act to stop storm surges from cyclones bringing catastrophic flooding to this low-lying region. The Sundarbans is also home to the endangered Bengal Tiger.

The Committee threatens Dhaka with “sit-in, besiege, strike, blockade and other programmes” if the government does not stop the project.

The UK branch of the Committee to Protect Oil, Gas and Mineral Resources in Bangladesh called a solidarity meeting in Tower Hamlets, London while the Long March was in progress.

Secretary of the committee and Socialist Party member Akhter Khan said: “Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, has won the 2015 United Nations environmental award for ‘Champion of the Earth’.

“But she is destroying Bangladesh’s environment and ecology by promoting this dirty coal-based energy plant jointly with the Indian government.”

A protest outside the London Bangladeshi embassy is planned, along with a cultural event.