Cancel Rampal Coal Power Plant and Coal Import from India
“We, the undersigned citizens of Bangladesh, have come to know from media reports that a consignment of coal is going to start from Kolkata Port to Mongla within the next 2-3 days. According to the major newspapers of India, a rake of 3,800 metric tonnes of coal has reached Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Port (former Kolkata Port) which will be sent to Rampal Coal Power Plant. This shipment is for a test run of Rampal Coal Power Plant. The newspapers informed that around 20 thousand tonnes of coal will be sent every month when the power plant starts in full capacity.
Neither the governments of India and Bangladesh, nor the media published any news about signing any agreement between Bangladesh and India to supply coal for the power plant. Ignorance of public opinion and environmental risks and lack of transparency have been observed from the very beginning of the project. The coal import is the latest example of secrecy. The secrecy and non-transparency in the dealings related with civil matters, especially public resources is totally contradictory with democratic norms and ethics. It is also an example of disrespecting the citizens right to information.
Indian coal is the lowest quality in the world. Ash content of coal produced in India is 30% on an average which is 7% in Australian and Indonesian coal. India’s coal supply consumes about 0.7 kg coal to generate a kWh, whereas the US consumes about 0.45 kg coal per kWh. That is why, India itself imports coal from Australia, Indonesia and South Africa to meet its domestic needs. If Rampal Coal Power Plant uses Indian coal, it will require 40% more coal than the other countries. On the other hand, pollution of fly ash will be 5 times more than the other coals.
The Baleshwar, Shibsa, Shakbaria, Arpangashia, Kalindi, Panguchhi and Raimangal rivers will be used under Raimangal-Chalna-Mongla route for importing coal from India. All of these rivers passed through the Sundarbans, the world’s largest single tract mangrove forest. If Indian coal comes, 30 ships from Kolkata and 80 from Akram Point will navigate in the rivers of the Sundarbans every month.
24 ships, 11 in the Indian part and 13 in Bangladesh part, of the Sundarbans have been sunk with around 6,000 tonnes of fly ash, 5,000 tonnes of coal, 370 tonnes of petroleum, 500 tonnes of potassium, 1,036 tonnes of gypsum and 700 tonnes of wheat which has significant negative impacts on the fragile biodiversity of the Sundarbans.
When the Rampal coal power plant starts, the cumulative pollution of the power plant and coal transportation will aggravate the destruction of the Sundarbans, which is a world heritage site and natural barrier of the cyclones and storm surges for the coastal population of Bangladesh.
So, we strongly demand the cancellation of Rampal Coal Power Plant and the unjust, untransparent and secret initiative of importing coal from India.
- Professor Anu Muhammad, Department of Economics, Jahangirnagar University
- Advocate Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA)
- Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB)
- Khushi Kabir, Coordinator, Nijera Kori
- Shamsul Huda, Executive Director, Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD)
- Dr. Kazi Maruful Islam, Convener, Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED)
- Hasan Mehedi, Member Secretary, Bangladesh Working Group on External Debt (BWGED)”
Statement from BWGED | 2 July 2021.