Experts and researchers on Wednesday suggested that Rampal upazila of Bagerhat be replaced by Arpangasia in Barguna district as an alternative location for the proposed 1320MW coal-fired power plant near the Sundarbans.
Arpangasia, lying along the Burishwar River, appears to be safest and perfect site for the mega project as it is 30km east of the Sundarbans, and the smoke and fly ash generated from the plant will be easily driven away from the area, they told a discussion on the plant.
The National Committee to Protect the Sundarbans organised the programme in Dhaka marking the World Water Day 2017.
Dhaka University botany professor Dr Abdul Aziz, the key-note speaker, said considering the current demand of power in a developing nation like Bangladesh and its government's stance regarding the issue, they had earlier suggested Khulna's Lobonchora as an alternative site for the Rampal project.
“But, the proposal did not advance much due to some problems including the reason of Lobonchora being so close to densely populated Khulna town.
“Arpangasia is also near the coastal belt, which means that shipping cost of raw and other construction materials will be low. Industrial wastes from the plant will be quickly washed away into the Bay,” he observed, adding, the Burishwar has healthy water flow from the Meghna, posing little risk of thermal pollution.
Criticising the governments' plan to dump the plant's waste into a 100-acre pond, which will be highly harmful for humans and environment, he suggested a feasibility study at Arpangasia.
The national committee convener, Sultana Kamal, expressed her doubt over locals benefiting from the project, since she thinks the price of electricity will be much higher for them to afford.
“We think that commercial organisations or industries with foreign funding would be the beneficiaries,” she said.
Noted columnist Syed Abul Maksud said the country may face acute freshwater crisis in the coming years with the Rampal project worsening the situation in the south-western region then.
He also suggested that the government form a water cell comprising officials from the Water Development Board, Agricultural Development Corporation, and Water Supply and Sewerage Authority to monitor and research on the present condition of water in Bangladesh.
Prof Dr Badrul Imam of the platform said Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC) Managing Director Ujjwal Bhattacharya's claim of installing “ultra-super critical technology” in the project is not correct.
Even international experts and scientists, as he claimed, stated that old technology instead of the updated ones will be used in the plant which will not be able to help get rid of industrial residues as expected.
Dr Mohammad Abdul Matin, member secretary of the committee, urged the government to consider public opinion before initiating a development project anywhere in the country.
He also expected pragmatic decisions of the prime minister considering the pros and cons of the Rampal project.