The National Committee to Save the Sundarbans friday criticised the Department of Environment (DoE) for approving the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report regarding the Rampal thermal power plant near the Sundarbans.
The public platform, formed last month, says the regulator made the decision only to please the government and did not consider the environmental damage, demanding the cancellation of the EIA.
“The approval to establish the thermal power plant came from the DoE and it is a clear indication of the government’s desire,” said Dr Abdul Matin, member secretary of the committee, at a human chain in front of the National Press Club.
The committee says the EIA was wrong, one-sided and confusing. It was conducted by the government’s own agency, Centre for Environmental and Geographical Information Services (CEGIS).
The DoE issued a location clearance in favour of the project on May 23, 2011. However, final environmental clearance will be given after the completion of the plant’s construction.
The committee was formed on July 20 with the aim of protecting the Sundarbans, a World Heritage Site, from the threat the power plant and other adverse activities pose. Sultana Kamal, chairman of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), heads the committee.
Abdul Matin also blamed the government for violating its own rules by allowing the coal-based thermal power plant to be built within 10 kilometres of an Ecologically Critical Area (ECA) despite the establishment of any kind of industry producing toxic material being banned.
Matin also said the government’s bold moves to protect the Sundarbans which provide a unique ecosystem and a rich wildlife habitat for flora and fauna would be ruined by the construction of the thermal power plant.
The plant would destroy the ecological balance of the country’s only mangrove forest and its adjacent area as it would produce a huge amount of waste materials which are extremely harmful to the environment, said Zakir Hossain, joint secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon.
He also mentioned that it would affect the dolphin population of the nearby Pashur River.
Among others, Prof Anu Mohammad and Asif Nazrul also spoke at the protest gathering.