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WHC appreciates govt’s steps for protecting Sundarbans

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 11th July, 2019 02:16:41 AM
  • Print news
WHC appreciates govt’s steps for protecting Sundarbans

Bangladesh has explained its positions about the construction of Rampal power plant and protecting the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarbans to the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury on Wednesday told this to reporters in a briefing on Bangladesh’s joining of the 43rd WHC session in Azerbaijan.

He said when the issue of Sundarbans came up for talks, the UN body raised objection about the ongoing works around Sundarbans giving some misleading information. But delegation from Bangladesh managed to convince the committee that the government was fully aware of the environmental issue regarding Sundarbans.

“But the Bangladesh delegation explained our positions. China, on behalf of Bangladesh, placed the matter in the conference,” PM’s power and energy advisor said.

Tawfiq-e-Elahi also mentioned that all necessary assurances of protecting the world’s largest mangrove forest Sundarbans have been given to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

In bid to make the UNESCO more assured about the protection of the Sundarbans, Bangladesh will invite World Heritage Committee (WHC) team to visit the Sundarbans and adjoining areas, added Tawfiq-e-Elahi.

“We’ll fully cooperate with the WHC team although it wasn’t an obligation for Bangladesh to invite them,” he said.

However, Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury claimed that the WHC appreciated the government’s steps taken so far for protecting the environment of Sundarbans.

Mentioning that 21 member nations, including Bangladesh, joined the 43rd WHC conference in Azerbaijan, “some 16 nations, led by China, supported Bangladesh’s stance and cleared the way for moving ahead with the power plant project,” said Tawfiq-e-Elahi.

Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, who led the Bangladesh delegation at WHC, said at the end of the session, Bangladesh agreed to do three things — inviting the WHC team, implementing a contingency plan for ensuring water flow in the Sundarbans, and preparing a strategic environment assessment plan.

He, however, said these are not obligations for Bangladesh.

Replying to a question, former director general of Department of Environment (DoE) and currently Rajuk Chairman Dr Sultan Ahmed said some 154 industries around Sundarbans were set up much before and some of them were set up more than 70 years ago.

He said the DoE conducted survey on them and found 24 as “Red category” industry. “But none of them are found to be blamed for polluting environment as they don’t release water or carbon,” he said.

Power Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus said the number of tigers has increased in Sundarbans and also the area of the forest has increased due to the steps taken by the government.