Although the Rampal power plant is an economic loss project, the government is looking for political gains! Environmentalists say.

Publish: 7:40 PM, October 2, 2022 | Update: 7:40:PM, October 2, 2022

Pinky Akter: Coal-based Rampal Power Plant (Maitri Super Thermal Power Plant) at Bagerhat is all set to start commercial production next October.
Project Director of Maitri Super Thermal Power Plant Subhash Chandra Pandey said that all the supporting management of this power plant is ready.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated Unit-1 of Maitri Power Plant, a 1,320 MW supercritical coal-fired thermal power plant.

Environmentalists have been against this controversial project since the beginning. They are afraid of serious damage to the biodiversity of the Sundarbans if this power plant starts. The Rampal Power Project area is 14 km away from the protected forest area of Sundarbans.

According to the official, the distance of the project from the world heritage area is 69 km.

The Sundarbans Protection National Committee claims that their objection to the Rampal Power Project is due to its proximity to the Sundarbans.

On the other hand, the government and the Bangladesh India joint company are saying that the pollution of this power plant will be small and will not harm the Sundarbans.

Professor Anu Mohammad has been opposing the Rampal Coal Thermal Power Plant since its inception.
Jahangirnagar University economics department professor Anu Mohammad said this project is deadly for the environment. Directly and indirectly, Bangladesh will suffer financial loss due to this project. He said that the entire profit from the project will go to India, and Bangladesh will face the burden of additional debt. 15 percent of the project has been financed by PDB, 15 percent by Indian company NTPC, and the remaining 70 percent by bank loan from Exim Bank of India. If the company closes or fails to repay the loan, Bangladesh will have to pay the entire loan amount. The generated electricity will be purchased by PDB. And the net profit will be shared between PDB and NTPC at the rate of 50 percent. But 100 percent environment will be destroyed only in Bangladesh. Indian companies will take 50% profit by investing 15% and repatriate the entire profit under ‘tax free facility.

Annually 47 lakh tons of coal will come through the Sundarbans river, about 12 thousand tons of coal will be brought to the project every day which is a threat to the biodiversity of the Sundarbans.

He said that the development will become a refuge for the harmful project. Coastal storm flows over the Sundarbans. Sundarbans will slowly die when the project starts. This will adversely affect the livelihood and health of the coastal people starting from agriculture and fisheries resources. Will increase the cost of people’s health sector. Production will be affected.

He also added that the project has nothing to do with electricity, rather it is a political strategic project to allow India to monitor the Sundarbans for strategic reasons. And due to its political dependence on India, the government is adamant about such environmentally destructive projects.
Monirul Islam Khan, Associate Professor of the Zoology Department of Jahangir Nagar University, said that the biodiversity of the Sundarbans forest is already at risk due to salinity and various types of pollution. If biodiversity is destroyed, it will affect human food and livelihood, thus disrupting the balance of the environment.

The project officials say that there should not be any kind of hindrance to bringing the coal of this project built on the banks of the Pasur river, therefore special importance is being given to the dredging of the river as well as the construction of facilities. However, special importance has been given to the management of fumes emitted from furnaces. So that this smoke cannot pollute the environment, the help of modern technology has been taken. They claim that there will be no negative impact on the Sundarbans, including the effect of smoke on the local people, and environmental damage.0

A joint study by the Sundarbans Protection National Committee and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) said that the power generation cost per unit in this thermal power plant would be more than 62 percent. The government has already waived taxes for this project for 15 years, with a monetary value of USD 936 million. Apart from this, 2.6 million dollars will be spent annually on digging and maintaining the river to carry coal.

That is, if the power of this center is to be given to the people at the prevailing rate, then the government has to subsidize a huge amount of money. Besides, the government will also lose a huge amount of revenue due to tax exemption.

Explaining why 10 coal-fired power plants in the country have been decommissioned, the Rampal thermal power plant has not been decommissioned, said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, “It is very sophisticated. Its smoke rises up to 200 feet; point zero to percent, which is very low carbon emission. The fear is If the coal that is brought falls into the river, it will cause pollution.” Cement factories produce less carbon than other existing factories. So there is a lot of fuss about it, but nothing to worry about.
According to environmentalists, the Rampal thermal power plant is a threat and harmful not only to the Sundarbans but also to the entire South and South-Western regions. Already, the poison of coal coming from this center has started spreading to the coast including Sundarbans. Coal cargo sinks in the Sundarbans river spreading coal poison.

Convener of Bapa Mongla region. Noor Alam Sheikh said, “Coal has nothing to say. Recognizing that coal is a bad thing, the world’s heads of state discussed at the World Climate Conference to stop it. Coal will harm human health, nature, environment, and everything.” In addition, the economy is closely related to these things, in fact, it is an economic loss project.

Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of BAPA said, “People will not survive if the environment does not survive. This is the Environmental Injustice Project. He also commented that due to India’s legal obligations, it is not possible to set up India, and therefore selecting this sensitive place in Bangladesh for the project is an act of environmental racism.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bela, said, “We have over capacity right now. Our money will be deducted from tax for this extra sitting center. Which is economic loss.
She further added that the government is doing this power plant for political reasons. Which will be of no use at some point.

According to environmentalists, no matter how high the chimney is used, this deadly harmful gas, which is heavier than air, will return to the Sundarbans. Apart from this, every day 142 tons of toxic sulfur dioxide and 85 tons of nitrogen dioxide will be released from this power plant, increasing the air density of Sundarbans and will destroy the entire Sundarbans and surrounding areas.

meanwhile, trial production started on August 15. On that day, Unit-1 of the Maitri Super Thermal Power Project produced 91.7 MW of electricity. The two units of this power plant built at a total cost of 16 thousand crores will produce 660 megawatts of electricity.