Before all the factories around the Sundarbans, including the Rampal power plant fully functional the loss of the Sundarbans has started. Not only the plants and animals are destroyed in the forest, the food chain in adjoining areas is breaking down. This picture of damage was found in the initial stage of construction of 200 factories around the world heritage site. The losses will increase if all the factories are fully operational at the end of construction. A recent study by Department of Environmental Science, Khulna University, has come out with this result.
Untimely torture on the Sundarbans is not the end; it is now facing the greatest threat of destruction. It is a matter of great concern that the recent erosion of both the riverbanks are growing rapidly. The main reason for this is: filling up of the low-lying land and canals for the industrial plots. Other factors are pressure from the additional vessels, recent dredging of Pashur and Mongla-Ghasiakhali channel, more commercial activities, unplanned industrialization and profitable business, increasing the number of vessels in the river for trade etc.
The government of Bangladesh has allocated 320 industrial plots as well as a coal-based Rampal thermal power plant adjacent to the Sundarbans. Although the Hon’ble Prime Minister once said in a press conference that these plots would not be allowed to set up any industries, But his government has allowed 190 industries to be set up in this forests’ buffer zone, of which there will be 24 red category or extreme pollutant structures, including 08 LPGs. Most important news is that our environment law has been amended to justify these red category organizations.To protest all those recent steps of the government that are significantly harmful for the Sundarbans, BAPA and Waterkeepers Bangladesh jointly organized the press conference on 18 May 2018 at Dhaka Reporters Unity presided over by eminent intellectual Sayed Abul Maksud while among others Sultana Kamal, Dr. Mohd. Abdul Matin, Samshul Huda, Ruhin Hossain Prince, Sharif Jamil and Noor Alam spoke in the event. Sharif presented the important findings of the recent study of Prof. Abdullah Harun of Khulna University of Science and Technology.
The following demands were put forward from the press conference:
- The UNESCO World Heritage Committee resolution will have to be fully implemented; all construction work must be stopped immediately.
- Rampal thermal power plant and all the allocated plots should be immediately canceled.
- Steps have to be taken on the basis of the recommendations of the July 17 meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, 13 important research reports that were submitted to the government by the NCSS, and the recent study of Prof. Abdullah Harun of Khulna University.
- All other irregularities in and around the Sundarbans must be stopped immediately; enhance the manpower of the forest department and ensure transparency of their work.