Sian Crampsie

UNESCO has joined a campaign calling for the government of Bangladesh to re-think plans for a 1300 MW coal-fired power plant.

The Rampal project is being developed by a Bangladesh-India joint venture in Khulna, Bangaldesh. The site lies close to the Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to ecologically-sensitive mangrove forests that support species such as the Bengal tiger.

A report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the risks to the Sundarbans from the Rampal ultra-supercritical coal power plant project. IUCN and UNESCO has called for the project to be relocated or cancelled.

IUCN’s report identified four key concerns related to the plant’s construction: pollution from coal ash by air, pollution from wastewater and waste ash, increased shipping and dredging, and the cumulative impact of industrial and related development infrastructure.

The report, compiled after a visit to the Sundarbans in March 2016, also concluded that the freshwater flow into the Sundarbans has been drastically reduced, resulting in substantial increases in siltation and salinity that are threatening the overall balance of the ecosystem. It recommends immediate action to secure adequate freshwater flow to the site, and calls for a new integrated management plan.

The Rampal project is being developed by the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Pvt Ltd. (BIFPCL), a joint venture between the Bangaldesh Power Development Board and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation.

In July 2016 India’s BHEL signed a contract to build the Rampal power plant.