Coal-fired power plant near Sundarbans to be suicidal: Seminar
We’ve only inherited one mangrove forest. The planned coal-fired power plant will definitely be a suicidal for us. It’ll result in a terrible disaster for the environment,” secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) Iqbal Habib told the seminar.
Monday September 10 2012 00:16:36 AM BDT
Dhaka, Sept 9 (UNB) – Speakers at a seminar here on Sunday voiced grave concern over the government’s plan to set up a 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant under joint-venture with India at a site adjacent to the world heritage Sundarbans.
They said the proposed plant would invite a disaster to the ecology of the mangrove forest.
“We’ve only inherited one mangrove forest. The planned coal-fired power plant will definitely be a suicidal for us. It’ll result in a terrible disaster for the environment,” secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) Iqbal Habib told the seminar.
Bangladesh Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) organised the seminar titled, ‘Coal-fired Power Plant: Bangladesh Perspective’.
The speakers also raised a question as to how the government developed lands for the proposed plant at the site before conducting an environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Prime Minister’s Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, who was the chief guest at the function, however, said the government will move with the plant keeping in mind the environmental issues.
He also informed that any environmental impact assessment is yet to be completed about the proposed power plant.
Responding to comments from businessmen about the new electricity and gas connections that remained suspended, he said providing new gas and power connections to industries will resume next month.
“We’ll restart the new gas and power connections to industries from the next month after discussion. But everybody has to be conservative about their consumptions,” he said.
Chaired by FBCCI President AK Azad, the seminar was addressed, among others, by State Minister for Power and Energy Mohammad Enamul Haque, former caretaker government’s adviser and eminent businessman Syed Manzur Elahi, Energy Secretary Mohammad Mesbauddin, Buet Prof Nurul Islam, Dr Izaj Hossain, former Petrobangla director Mokbul-e-Elahi, eminent environmentalist Abdullah Abu Sayeed and chief executive of Bangladesh Environment Lawyers’ Association (Bela) Syeda Rizwana Hasan.
Power secretary Abul Kalam Azad made a presentation on the power sector and future plan of coal-fired power plants while former FBCCI president Anisul Haque conducted the seminar.
Tawfiq-e-Elahi said the government is aware about the environmental issues and it will share its views with the stakeholders at an appropriate time.
On criticism about increasing the cost of electricity for rental power plants and the government’s move for further raising power tariff, he said people have to be ready to pay more if they want to get electricity.
Manzur Elahi said the country needs manufacturing industries for employment generation and the manufacturing industries need energy. “So, the government should try to provide energy at an affordable cost.”
Energy Secretary Mesbauddin said the government has moved for imported coal-based power plants because still there are many unsettled issues regarding the environment and extraction of coal from local mines.
Prof Nurul Islam said there should be a coal research institute before going for setting up any coal-based power plant to determine the merits and demerits of such power plants.
Prof Ijaz Hossain said supercritical technology is being used by the developed world to address the environmental issues in coal-fired power plants. “We can use that technology, but we’ll have to think about cost and affordability before that.”
He also said the government has conducted an environmental impact assessment of the proposed Rampal power plant project, but it has to be done again as it did not cover most of the main and critical issues.
Mokbul Elahi said the EIA will be made public to get their views. “But before that, no body should make any comment on the basis of public perception,” he said.
Syeda Rizwana Hasan said the government did not provide any documents about the proposed project despite repeated appeals by environmentalists. “As a result, we have to make our comment on the basis of reports published in the newspapers,” she said.
Rizwana alleged that the government has no policy on coal and coal-fired power plants. “Land processing works have been done for the Rampal plant. If the EIA about the plant is proved to be negative who will be held responsible for that?” she questioned.