Dhaka Tribune – Protests in Barisal against coal power plant and ship-breaking yards

(Written by Anisur Rahman Swapan)

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12 September 2013 - Protesters demand the cancellation of a proposed coal-based power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat and ship-breaking yards at Patharghata in Barguna

Hundreds of protesters linked hands and formed a human chain in Barisal city on Thursday to demand the cancellation of a proposed coal-based power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat and ship-breaking yards at Patharghata in Barguna.

The protesters said the projects would destroy the environment of the coastal districts.

Samajtantrik Chhatra Front and Biggyan Mancha Andolan jointly organised the demonstrations that began with a protest march from Amrita Lal Dey College and ended with a rally in front of the Ashwini Kumar Hall.

Organisation leaders who addressed the rally included Riazul Huq Khan, Imran Habib Rumman, Manisha Chakraborty, Prodipta Saha, Badruddoza Soikat and Bidhuvushan Nath.

The speakers said the site of the proposed coal-fired power plant was situated only 9km from the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and a Unesco world heritage site. The Patharghata coast is also nearby.

The construction of the 1,320mW thermal power plant at Rampal is a joint venture between Bangladesh Power Development Board and the Indian National Thermal Power Corporation.

The speakers said India was trying to protect the Sundarbans on its side, but planned to build a potentially environment-damaging power plant close to the Bangladesh part of the mangroves.

About the ship-breaking industry, the protesters alleged that whilst most countries of the world prohibited the use of their coasts for ship breaking, some greedy, profit-mongering businessmen and corrupt political leaders were allowing it in Bangladesh.

The power plant and ship-breaking projects would contaminate the land and pollute the air, which would affect the lives of millions of inhabitants of the southern coastal region, they said.

The proposed projects would also seriously harm the bio-diversity, ecology, water management, flora and fauna of the Sundarbans and the coastal areas, they claimed.

They alleged that the government finalised the project sites without considering social and environmental impacts and economic benefits for the region.