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DHAKA | Wednesday | 28 December 2011
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Proposed power plant to destroy SundarbansEnvironmentalists warn
 The proposed coal-based Rampal power plant in Bagerhat will destroy the unique ecosystem and biodiversity of the Sundarbans, a storehouse of natural resources, said president of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) Muzaffer Ahmad on Wednesday.

"The development works that destroy the unique ecosystem of the Sundarbans is not development . I do hesitate to call it development," he told the inaugural session of a report launching ceremony and a panel discussion at BIAM auditorium in the city.

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, and Coastal Development Partnership (CDP), Bangladesh, jointly organised the function and the discussion titled 'Bangladesh, India and Climate Change: Sharing Experiences and Evidence from the Sundarbans.'

Senior Fellow of Climate Change group at International Institute for Environment and Development Dr Saleemul Huq, CSE Deputy Director Chandra Bhushan and CDP executive director S Jahangir Hasan Masum also spoke at the function, with Assistant Professor of Jahangirnagar University Sharmind Neelormi in the chair.

Speaking as the chief guest, Muzaffer Ahmad said the biodiversity of the Sundarbans is unique, but unplanned human actions have changed its biodiversity.

The flora-fauna, biodiversity and natural resources are being destroyed due to aggressive human activities and the growing pressure of population, he said.

The Bapa president said the socio-economic pressures are changing the environment in the Sundarbans, resulting in multifaceted impacts on the lives and livelihood of people and other biological phenomena.

"The economic development has failed to preserve the ecosystem of the Sundarbans.. It's a storehouse of natural resources, you can get economic benefits without destroying it," he said.

Muzaffer said: "We have to look into the anthropological, social and economic aspects. The development works should not destroy the resources of the Sundarbans."

Saleemul Huq stressed the need to strengthen cross-boundary collaborations in research to identify the major problems of the Sundarbans to protect the world's largest mangrove forest from its impending peril.

CSE Deputy Director Chandra Bhushan said the development planning in the Indian part of the Sundarbans has never included climate change or its impacts within its purview of things -- and this is quite evident in the way everything from electrification to land management is being done here.

In the case of electrification, despite the vulnerability (due to the fragile topography and frequency of extreme weather events) and skewed cost of the grid, a decentralised distribution network for renewable energy has not been promoted, he said. - UNB

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