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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

Rampal Coal Power Plant: A letter from India

Save Sunderbans Stop Rampal

Irrawady Dolphin Found in Sunderbans

Irrawady Dolphin Found in Sunderbans


Growing up in Kolkata, Sunderbans was very special—it was the home for the Royal Bengal Tiger. After Tsunami 2004, I began to read about how mangrove forests had protected some communities from extensive damage (Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/10/051028141252.htm). Sunderbans became extra special since it is the largest Mangrove forest in the world.


Anybody who understands wee-bit of forest ecology knows they are homes to Earth’s biodiversity. And Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for preserving:  “334 plant species belonging to 245 genera and 75 families, 165 algae and 13 orchid species, 693 species of wildlife which includes; 49 mammals, 59 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 210 white fishes, 24 shrimps, 14 crabs and 43 mollusks species, bird life includes 315 species of waterfowl, raptors and forest birds including nine species of kingfisher and the magnificent white-bellied sea eagle”. (source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/798)


More recently I discovered that Bangladesh has 3 Irrawaddy dolphin sanctuaries in the Sunderbans forest. I would have never guessed there were dolphins there! But along with that, I discovered that a coal-based thermal power plant, Rampal Power Plant had been inaugurated last week 14 kms from this precious ecologically-sensitive zone against the warning of many environmentalists.


What happens when a thermal power plant is set up so close? Research shows such plants emit (annual rate): 52,000 tonnes of poisonous Sulphur Dioxide gas, 30,000 tonnes of Nitrogen Dioxide gas, 750,000 tonnes of fly ash, and 200,000 tonnes of bottom ash (Source: Sunderbans Declaration). The river Poshur will also be affected and along with that riverine life and let us not forget the dolphin sanctuaries. And added to this, coal will have to be transported via the Sunderbans. Can you imagine what a coal truck does when it passes by a neighborhood?


Now you might say—woopsie doo! How come we didn’t know? I have no answer to that. In Bangladesh, the movement has snowballed into a huge civil society unrest led by a University Professor Dr. Anu Muhammad. Sunderbans is the heritage for both India and Bangladesh. Harm to it hurts us both. Pain will be equally shared by folks on either side of the border who are dependent on this forest. We need to Stop Rampal Power plant together in solidarity with each other. On the Indian side, Prof Shyam Mondal, Indranil Saha and others are working to resist the NTPC move.