We’re talking about our beloved forest; we’re talking about the Royal Bengal Tigers….. The most gorgeous animal species of the planet; and we’re talking about some “innocent” plans to destroy them all. How? By electrocution. Don’t believe me? Don’t you hear that we’re going to establish the Largest Power Plant of the country, at the heart of our most precious forest? What more do you need?
The proposed 1,320-megawatt Rampal Power Plant is an outcome of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to India from January 10-12, 2010. As per article 35 of the 51-point joint communiqué issued at the end of the visit, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Dhaka on February 20, 2010 between the Bangladesh Energy Secretary and his Indian counterpart. In line with the memorandum, the National Thermal Power Company of India and the Power Development Board of Bangladesh were to set up the Bagerhat coal-based power plant at Rampal. It was initially proposed that Indian coal would be used for the plant. However, the proposal was dropped because of the poor quality of Indian coal. This environmentally devastating project is to be financed with costly buyer’s credit and India will own half of it with almost no direct investment. A joint venture, styled the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited, is likely to start the project on Bangladesh soil, apparently in India’s interest. And finally, on 20th April, Bangladesh Government signed the final contract with Indian authorities regarding establishment of power plants in Bangladesh. The prior contract for establishment of Coal based power company project was signed by Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) with National Thermal Power Corporation of India (NTPC) on 29 January, 2012. We must not dare to ask a simple question, how NTPC was allowed to build the Power Plant in Sundarbans, while other Indian companies were denied permissions to build same projects in Indian sides of the mangrove forest?
Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) will buy electricity produced in this project at the rate of 8.85 taka per unit; whereas other national coal-based power companies sell electricity to PDB at the rate of about 4 taka per unit. We have to spend just double price for that supply.
Acquisition of 1830 acres of fertile land will take away shelter of about 8000 families; they’ll all become unemployed whereas this project will employ only 600 persons. The rest 7400 families will live happily ever after as they won’t have to work anymore, may be they don’t even need to exist on earth!
Adverse affect on Environment:
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of this power plant has provided some facts which may sound assuring, but digging deep we’d found them as devastating. Phase by phase, this power plant will give us nothing but misery.
1. Production of 500 Megawatts of electricity in coal based power plant needs 2.2 billion gallons of water. And this water will be supplied from the “Poshur” river, which protects the whole ecological balance out there.
2. In foreign countries (even in India) no coal based power plants can be established within 15-20 kilometers of protected forests or residential areas. However, our Govt. allowed this Rampal project in an area which stands just 14 kilometers away (As per the Contraversial EIA Report), though experts say that it stands only a few kilometers away from our precious Sundarbans, which has been declared as Ecologically Critical Area by Global community.
3. This 1320 Megawatts power plant will produce 142 tons of Sulfur-Di-Oxide an 85 tons of Nitrogen-Di-Oxide in a daily basis. Apart from that, this plant will also discharge 100 cubic meters of effluent in the Poshur river per hour. The authority won’t follow the Zero Discharge method, but the same Indian authority doesn’t forget to follow Zero discharge method in establishing power plants in own country.
4. This power plant will produce 7,50,000 tons of fly ash and 2,00,000 tons of bottom ash containing Arsenic, Mercury, Lead, Nickel, Vanadium, Beryllium, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium, Selenium and even Radium. More importantly, this has been directed to be used in land filling (1414 acres of 1834 acres) of the area.
5. Govt. have to import 47,20,000 tons of Coal from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa through sea ways. And those Coal bearing ships will cross through Sundarbans to reach Mangla Seaport and then to Rampal Power Plant. But as Poshur River is not deep enough, the Big ships will reach the Akram point at first and later smaller ships will carry the coal to Mongla Sea port. According to the need of the power plant; the big ships will carry coal from Hiron point to Akram point (30km) for 59 days and From Akram point to Mongla sea port (67km) for 236 days! These trips will cause emission of fuel, coal parts, garbage and everything in the rivers and canals, the lifelines of Sundarbans. The loading and unloading of Coal will keep the animals awake day and night. The nocturnal species will be disturbed with the encroachment of search lights of ships.
6. Excess mining of the groundwater will drawdown the groundwater level to a severe extent. Already the salinity of the soil of Sundarbans and surroundings has reached an extreme level due to the outcome of two devastating cyclones, Sidr in 2007 and Aila in 2010.
All those effects mentioned above were considered by the Indian Ministry of Environment and they stopped establishment of a power plant in Madhyapradesh due to these same environmental troubles they would have to face. Scarcity of agricultural land, Nearby Residential area, Scarcity of Water, Environmental impact – these were the reasons they did not let Madhyapradesh suffer from the pain of coal based power plant we are about to feel. And we, Bangladesh, an independent nation have shown “sincere eagerness” to harness such a hell in our beloved Sundarbans. Let it be then; Let our pride, the largest Mangrove forest of the Globe with all its God given resources be perish forever for some incre ibly overpriced electricity supply; Let our Tigers do live only in our paper books and photographs, and in our dreams; Decision is yours now, watch the death of the only natural wonder you have or stand up, and protest.
[Statistics and Information were collected from Online sources]