'We have to determine how much industrialization should be allowed in a particular area so that tourism, salt and fishing industries do not go extinct'
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Waterkeepers Bangladesh on Friday demanded that foreign investors invest in green energy, rather than in a coal-based power plant in Coxs Bazar.
The demand was echoed at a press briefing at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the capital.
In the press briefing, the two environment-based organizations have also demanded that foreign investors to pull out the finances they have already invested in environmentally damaging coal-based power plant.
They also urged the government to conduct the scientific survey-strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) before planning to set up any large scale industries and buildings in the south-east region of the country.
They added: “We have to determine how much industrialization should be allowed in a particular area so that tourism, salt and fishing industries do not go extinct.”
Human right activists Sultana Kamal expressing concern over government’s plan to construct a coal-based plant said: “This will destroy Cox’s Bazar”.
She also said: “Few years back, we campaigned as Cox's Bazar being one of the most beautiful places in the world, but now we are literally strangling the life out of it with the construction of a coal-based power plant.
At the conference, Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) emphasized the needs to conduct a survey to establish an industry. Companies like JICA surveyed and invested money in the Matarbari Project but they did not reveal the negative impacts it would have on the environment.
Sharif Jamil, general secretary of BAPA and coordinator of Waterkeepers Bangladesh, published a report titled “The tourist capital of Bangladesh endangered by plans to build the largest coal power hub in the world” at the press conference.
He said 17 fired coal power plants with a generating capacity of 17,944 megawatts (MW) of electricity are proposed for construction in 25-km of Cox’s Bazar.
Besides, 13 of the 17 coal plants are proposed for construction within 10 kilometres of each other on flood-prone Matarbari and Moheshkhali Islands. The cluster of eight coal plants proposed for Moheshkhali Island will make it the largest coal plant hub in the world.
In addition, Cox’s Bazar coal plants will generate 72 million tons of carbon dioxide (Mt CO2) every year by 2031. The emission of carbon dioxide will be way more than countries like Albania, Armenia, Bhutan, Cambodia, Congo, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Senegal and Zambia combined, confirmed Jamil.
Terming these projects as harmful the speakers demanded renewable energy instead of coal-based power plant considering the impact.
Sultana Kamal chaired the press conference, while Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Iftekharuzzaman, BAPA's executive vice-president Md. Abdul Matin, Joint Secretary Sharmin Murshid, President of Cox's Bazar branch of BAPA Fazlul Quader Chowdhury, and Abu Bakkar Siddique, member secretary of Maheshkhali branch also spoke in the conference.