Rampal Power Plant – A Devil in disguise
Rampal Power Plant – Is it good for Sundarbans?
Rampal Power Plant and Sundarban
The world heritage site Sundarbans mangrove forest, the largest mangrove forest in the world and extremely rich in biodiversity. It is a coastal mangrove forest where the sweet water of Ganges delta meets the saline water of Bay of Bengal; hence it has a unique and sensitive biodiversity.
The forest is shared by India and Bangladesh of which the greater portion which is more than 60% belongs to Bangladesh. The forest also works as a safe guard against natural calamities like cyclone and tornado.
However this great mangrove may not exist. Bangladesh is one of the rapidly growing countries which need power. To meet with the demand of electricity the govt. has to set up new electricity power plants.
Rampal is a place that is about 20 km away from Sundarbans where the proposed Rampal coal-based thermal power plant is to be constructed to supply electricity to the southern part of the country. The 1320MW power plant is a joint venture between the govt. of Bangladesh and India.
However, study says this power plant will affect the Sundarbans and will surely destroy it. Coal-based power plants are extremely polluting and no country gives permission to build such a power plant within 20-25 km of any national park, agricultural and residential area. However, surprisingly, the Rampal power plant is only 14 km away from Sundarbans which is claimed to be safe by the govt. of the two countries.
Let’s have a look how it might destroy Sundarbans:
1. The plant will cause serious air, sound, water and land pollution which will be irreversible.
2. The power plant will produce tons of sulphur-dioxide, carbon-monoxide, carbon-dioxide and other toxic chemicals which will pollute the air of Sundarbans and surrounding area.
3. The life line of Sundarbans is its numerous rivers, canals and channels, among these rivers, the Pashur is the main. The power plant will use water from the river which will lead to river erosion and then wastes will pollute the water, destroying creatures like fishes, Irrawaddy dolphin, salt water crocodile, otter and the Royal Bengal tiger. The forest is the largest shelter for the Royal Bengal tigers, about 450 tigers reside in the Bangladeshi part and 90% of Irrawaddy dolphins of the world are found in the forest.
4. Coal and other equipments to build the power plant will be taken in ships through the forest which will cause noise pollution which is devastating for the wildlife of the forest. There is a high risk of oil spillage in the water bodies.
5. The people who live in the proposed area for the power plant, depend mainly on agriculture and aquaculture. If this power plant gets built, thousands of people will lose their land and works, whereas the power plant will provide employment to only a handful of people.
6. The Sundarbans is a RAMSAR site too. This means it is an important area for birds. Pollution from the power plant will destroy the natural habitat for these birds.
However people of Bangladesh are protesting against the construction of this power plant to save the great mangroves. Other suitable areas were proposed but the govt. didn’t pay heed, protests from people are still going on, and we hope the love for nature will win.