The Rampal power plant, designed have a capacity of 1320MW,
is a joint venture between the Government of India and Bangladesh. Its stated
objective is to reduce the annual power shortages in Bangladesh. It is a coal
based thermal power plant at Rampal in Bagerhat District.
There are many problem with this project and these problems
are connected with national environmental issue. Firstly, this project is only
10km away from the Sundarbans the environmentally critical area, threatening
its very existence.Rampal power plant will have hazardous impacton agriculture
and food security, faunal and floral diversity, wildlife, fisheries, ecosystem,
the life of local inhabitants and obviously environment and topography.
The proposed power plant will burn around 4.75 million
tonnes of coal annually when more or less 0.3 million tonnes ashes and around
0.5 million tonnes sludge and liquid waste may be produced. It would also emit
a good amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) – key factor for global warming – some
other toxic gases and airborne particles, according to Union of Concerned
Scientists, a USA-based group.
The proposed power plant would be among the largest point
sources of air pollution in all of Bangladesh. Its emissions would worsen
levels of toxic particles over all southwestern Bangladesh including the
Sundarbans ecosystem and the localities of Khulna and around it. Over its
operational lifetime, the plant emission increase the risk of having different
diseases. The plant will increase 24-hour average ambient levels on NO2 in nearby localities up to 25% over the
current national urban average and will increase SOx levels up to 50% over the urban average,
during days with the highest impact from the plant.
According to the Government, the Rampal coal plant will suck
up 9150 cubic meters of water from the river every hour and run it through a
desalination plant. Since mangroves depends on a mix of fresh and salt water-often
termed brackish-environmentalists not only fear that the water level in the Passur
river will run low, but also that the blend of fresh and salt water could be
disrupted, dooming swaths of the Sundarban’s mangroves. Mangrove ecosystems are
known to contain acidic soil and disruption may lead to leeching of the acid
into water causing major disaster to the aquatic fauna including the fisheries.
Projected mercury deposition from the plant could be sufficient to render fish
unsafe to eat over an area of approximately 70km2 around the power plant. This highly affected
area is entirely in the water catchment of Sundarbans wetlands. It affects the
food chain of Sundarbans.
Sundarbans is a heritage of the people of Bangladesh.
Sacrificing this in the name of producing electricity doesn’t hold due to the
availability of alternate sites, available for building any power plants – be they
coal fired or other fuel source. Any measure to mitigate the harmful effects of
the Rampal coal fired power plant demands the installation of equipment for
environment management such as, flue gas desulfurization(FGD) for the fly ash.
Monitoring methods for reducing the hazards of coal transport and burning if ‘slack’
by any chance will expedite the damage of forestry and wild life of Sundarbans.
So, if it is possible to change the location it would be
better otherwise the environment management equipment should operate properly
to make our environment clear and save Sundarbans.