Bangladesh Protest Movement Expands as Coal Plant Threatens UNESCO Site

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from Dhaka Tribune

Leaders of the National Committee to Protect Oil Gas and Power Ports Saturday threatened to announce tougher programmes like nonstop sit-in at the project site in protest against the Rampal coal-fired power plant.

Prof Anu Mohammad, member secretary of the platform, was critical of both Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh for inaugurating the power plant works through a video conference. He alleged both of violating their countries’ environmental laws with the move. He also accused Hasina of cheating people as she had inaugurated the project much before schedule, fearing resistance of the people of Rampal.

The National Committee has been campaigning against the project and demanding that the project location be changed. They also held a long march programme last month from Dhaka to Rampal.

“We will not retreat from the anti-Rampal campaign. The movement will be intensified and tougher action programmes like nonstop sit-in at the project site will soon be announced, if needed,” said Prof Anu, while addressing a protest rally in front of Jatiya Press Club, according to UNB.

He urged people to participate in any such programme to save the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, since the plant project would gradually destroy the Unesco Heritage Site because of transporting and burning coal.

Prof Anu said there were alternatives to Rampal power plant. The government could arrange 1,320MW power by overhauling and maintenance works at the existing power plants.

Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) strongly protested and condemned the unveiling of the foundation plaque. President Mujahidul Islam Selim and General Secretary Syed Abu Zafar Ahmed in a press release alleged the plaque had been unveiled in a hurry to evade public wrath. The leaders said the government would be compelled to cancel the project due to united movement of the people.

The left leaning students’ organisations of Chittagong University also demonstrated demanding cancellation the coil-fired power plant, according to our CU correspondent. Under the banner of Progressive Students’ Alliance, the activists of Chhatra Front, Chhatra Federation and Chhatra Union took out a procession in the campus’ rail station area around 1:15pm.

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