Stop Power Plant, Save Sundarbans

The Government of Bangladesh has decided to build a 1320 megawatt coal based power plant just 9 km away from the Sundarbans Reserved Forest, one of the earth's rarest ecosystems and a UNESCO world heritage site. The Sundarbans has three tiger sanctuaries and three proposed dolphin sanctuaries. The project site is on the Bangladesh side of the vibrant mangrove delta but it is going to be run on Indian coal by National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), one of India's Navratna companies. Spreading over 800 hectares this 1.5 billion dollar project will be set up at the mouth of the Sundarbans in Rampal of Bagerhat, along Poshur river. The site, perilously close to the Sunderbans and about 60 km from the Indo-Bangla border, was apparently chosen because of its proximity to the Mongla port, convenient for importing coal required for the plant.Setting up the plant near the Sundarbans and its surrounding area will be detrimental to natural resources, biodiversity, wetland, forest and wildlife of the locality which is against the fundamental principles of state policy and the relevant provisions of constitution. The plant is likely to burn around 4.75 million tonnes of coal annually when some 3 lakh tonnes ashes and around 5 lakh tonnes sludge or liquid waste would be produced. It would also emit a good amount of carbon dioxide which is a key factor for global warming, some other toxic gases and airborne particles, according to Union of Concerned Scientists, a USA-based group. Toxic chemicals emitting from the power plant will threaten the bio-diversity of the Sundarbans. Moreover, hot water dumped from the power plant would adversely affect the various species of marine life in the nearby water bodies, pushing them towards extinction. The huge water requirement of the power project will be met by the river Passur, but this river helps maintain balance of sweet and saline water needed for the survival of the plant species of the Sundarbans. Environmental activists in Bangladesh has been protesting against this power plant. On 22 March 2012 the High Court of Bangladesh issued a rule upon the government to explain in two weeks why it should not be directed not to set up the proposed power plant near the Sundarbans. The court came up with the rule following a writ petition filed challenging the government's move to construct the coal-fired power plant near Sundarbans. Secretaries to the planning, environment, energy and land ministries, director general of Department of Environment, chairman of Power Development Board, deputy commissioner of Bagerhat and project director of the proposed plant have been made respondents to the rule. An environmentalist organization "Save the Sundarbans" filed the petition as public interest litigation on 31 January 2012.The project has worried the Ramsar Convention secretariat, too. The Sundarbans are registered with the Convention, an international treaty for conservation of wetlands. Last June when the project was in its proposal stage, the Convention secretariat wrote a letter to the Bangladesh Ministry of Environment and Forests showing concerns about the possible threats of this project on the Sundarbans ecosystem.An Environmental Impact Assessment for this project is yet to be done and made available to the public. Without a proper EIA the government should not go ahead with this project, but so far the government has acquired almost 2000 acres of lands for this project and Bangladesh Power Development Board has signed deals with the National Thermal Power Corporation.We need people all around the world to raise their voice against this environmentally harmful project and save one of the world's rarest ecosystem the Sundarban mangrove forest and the Bengal Tigers. We need 50000 signatures by 31 May 2012 to tell the government in Bangladesh and India to step back from this project.

We the undersigned people from around the world, request the Government of Bangladesh and the Government of India, to relocate this environmentally harmful coal-based power plant project from near the world's largest mangrove forest- the Sundarbans. This project has potential to seriously damage the delicate ecosystem of this mangrove forest and threaten the existence of the rich biodiversity of this forest which also includes the Bengal Tigers, one of the world's critically endangered species. We understand that for a developing country like Bangladesh energy is an important issue but not in exchange of the Sundarbans and the tigers. Please relocate this power plant to another place far from the Sundarbans where environmental damage will be minimum. Thank you very much for taking your time to read our letter. We hope you will take necessary actions as soon as possible to stop this power plant.

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