Reports that the Department of Environment (DoE) has approved an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a 1320MW coal power station and terminal at Rampal on the edge of the Sundarbans, if ‘’certain conditions’’ are met, raises new questions for this controversial project.
In 2011, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat, to which Bangladesh is a party, expressed concern about the proposal, which includes an anchorage at Akram Point, a shipyard and a coal silo in the forest area.
While the Power Development Board claims that proper measures can mitigate emissions of carbon dioxide, fine particles and fly ash, and properly dispose of waste, the National Committee to Save the Sundarbans believes the EIA has been pushed through following a technically one sided and confusing survey conducted by the government’s Centre for Environmental and Geographical Information Services.
This demonstrates an ongoing failure by public authorities to build trust with civil society and to convince the public that adequate controls and monitoring can be put in place. The stakes are too high for the DoE not to fully prove its case independently and transparently.
Bangladesh’s growing energy demands makes the building of power stations a national need. The government must do more to assure the public that a transparent and effective system to monitor the proposed complex can be put into place, if it is determined to allow it to go ahead.