Thousands across Bangladesh started a 400 km long march procession from Dhaka to Rampal, Bangladesh, this Tuesday, 24th September, 2013, in a mass protest against the set-up of a coal based power plant, at the heart of the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans. The long march is being coordinated by the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports to demand cancellation of the proposed power plant at Sundarbans and implementation of the committee’s seven point demand.
Addressing the procession, the Committee’s Convener Engineer Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah shared, “Most countries do not allow set up of coal based power plants within 20 to 25 km of protected forests and habitats due to the extremely high level of pollution caused by coal based power plants. Based on this assessment criteria, already three power plant projects has been cancelled in Karnatak, Maddhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, in India. Thus Indian NTPC company would not have been able to set up the same power plant as in Sundarbans, Bangladesh, had it been in its own country as per their law.”
Committee member Engineer B.D. Rahmatullah farther added, “We are not against power plants. We are against quick loots by quick rentals of the government.”
Secretary Chair of the Committee Professor Anu Muhammad shared, “No people can replicate the power that the Sundarbans possess. Sunderban has played a powerful role over the years to protect Bangladeshi people during cyclones like Sidr and Aila. There are lot of alternatives for producing electricity but there are no alternatives to the Sundarbans. We can produce more and cheaper electricity using renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar power. But instead we have arranged for the destruction of the Sundarbans for the sake of only 1,320 Mega Watts of energy.”
He farther estimated the cost damage of the Sundarbans around 5,400 billion taka and added, “Hundreds of thousands have joined the movement nationally to save the Sundarbans. No one can ignore the demands of the people and build a power plant at the Sundarbans. The existence of our nation is at stake.”
Engineer Kallol Mustafa also reiterated worries over the high amounts of poisonous chemical gases that coal power plants produce, and their impacts on the flora, fauna, lives, and livelihoods of the Sundarbans, and the economy of the country as a whole.
As the 5-day long march continues through the south-ward route, locals are also joining in with the protestors, through peaceful rallies, discussions, and infotainment.
The long march started on 24th September, 2013, from Dhaka, and is crisscrossing across the country creating movement along the way. Students, professionals, politicians, and general people from all walks of life have joined in the movement, to save their beloved Sundarbans, home to their beloved, yet endangered Royal Bengal Tigers and the near-to-extinct Irawaddy dolphins.
Once a finalist at the Seven Wonders of Nature, Sundarbans, although protected as a Ramser and an UNESCO World Heritage site, faces threat to its existence today. And it is to save it from this man-made threat of the Rampal Coal Power Plant that the protest of country-loving people continues.
The 5 day long march procession will end its journey at Rampal, Bagerhat, on 28th September, 2013 to protest the proposed Rampal coal power plant in Sundarbans, which is against the interest of the nation and the people.
Long March Program: 24th – 28th September, 2013
24th September: The journey starts at 9:00 am, and goes through Dhaka Press Club, Shahbagh, Savar Rana Plaza, Jahangirnagar University, Dhamrai. Procession and discussion, with night stay in Manikgonj.
25th September: The march continues through Goalondo, Rajbari Sadar. Procession and discussion, with night stay in Faridpur.
26th September: The march continues through Modhukhali, Kamarkhali, Magura, Jhenaidah, Kaligonj. Procession and discussion, with night stay in Jessore.
27th September: The march continues through Fultola, Doulotpur, Khalishpur. Procession and discussion, with night stay in Khulna.
28th September: The march continues through Bagerhat, Katakhali, Chulkathi. End procession and discussion in Digraj (Sundarbans).
Cultural shows for infotainment on the way.
Faridpur, Bangladesh, 25th September, 2013