MAC: Mines and Communities

Global Day of Protest Against India-Bangladesh Rampal Plant

Published by MAC on 2017-01-08
Source: APWLD, Dhaka Tribune

Save the Sundarbans!

Earlier this month, over 4000 people took to the streets of Dhaka, The Hague, London, Berlin, Halle, Paris, Gwangju, Hordaland, Turku, Kolkata and Melbourne to protest against the Rampal coal-fired plant project, next to the world's largest mangrove forest,which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site Site and a Ramsar site.

The 1320MW plant, owned by the Indian company NTPC and BHEL, is to be built within miles of the Sundarbans, home to thousands of many communities as well as endangered species, including the Bengal tiger and Irawaddy dolphin.

Previous on MAC:

2016-11-07 No Ramp-up for Sunderbans power plant!

2016-04-09 Bangladesh suspends work on coal plant after demonstrators killed

2015-11-10 Bangladesh: Coal Barge Sinks in World Heritage Site

Successful Global Day of Protest To Protect Sundarbans

Thousands of people protest across the world.

January 7, 2017

Civil society members across the globe and Bangladesh based National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Bangladesh (NCBD) and Sarbopran Sangskritik Shakti, joined today in solidarity with the Stop Rampal coal-fired power plant campaign in Bangladesh and major cities in the world.

More than 4000 people took to the streets in Dhaka, The Hague, London, Berlin, Halle, Paris, Gwangju, Hordaland, Turku, Kolkata and Melbourne to protest against the Rampal plant that will be built by the Indian company NTPC and BHEL next to the ecologically sensitive Sundarbans mangrove forest.

The Sundarbans is the largest single tract of mangrove forest and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a Ramsar site, a label awarded to wetlands of international importance. The global call also included a social media campaign to #StopRampal, including a Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr campaign and a release of a video.

“Destruction of Sundarbans by corporations planning to build the coal fired power plant in the name of development is going to make 50 million coastal people completely unprotected. Political boundaries cannot limit environmental destruction to a specific region. It will also impact coastal lives far from Bangladesh too. Our earth is one and environmental destruction affects us all. Therefore we must protect our earth, our common present and future,” said Anu Muhammad, Member Secretary, National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port, Bangladesh.

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) Regional Coordinator, Kate Lappin, added: “Women will suffer the most from the Rampal coal plant. Displacement, polluted water sources, diminished food security and, ultimately, increased climate change all deepen inequalities. Marginalised women rarely get energy from the grid. Instead the benefits will go to corporations. Conversely, sustainable, renewable energies can offer women energy democracy and decrease gender inequalities.”

We are also concerned that 4.72 million tons of coal per year is likely to be imported mainly from Australia, South-Africa and Indonesia to operate the plant. The coal will have to be shipped for 40 kilometers on the Pasur river, which flows through the Sundarbans. On top of being a huge greenhouse gas emitting project, the coal power plant threatens the unique biodiversity and ecosystem of the Sundarbans as well as the livelihoods and health of million local people. In this context, UNESCO has recently asked Bangladesh to abandon the project.

“The right to health for women and children is at risk with the construction of coal plants. Our experience in the Philippines is that many suffer from skin disease and asthma because of ash fall. It is also dangerous to pregnant and breastfeeding women. Food security is also violated because water becomes polluted and coal plants occupy large tracts of land that should be devoted to agriculture instead.” said Edna Velarde, Program Coordinator of National Federation for Peasant Women (AMIHAN), Philippines.

We hope that the global solidarity will lead towards energy democracy where local people, especially women, can make decisions over the use of their resources and energy needs and also open up the opportunity to create worldwide awareness for environment and ecology-friendly power generations and sustainable development that put people and environment before corporate profit.   

About National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port (NCBD)

National Committee to Protect Oil Gas Mineral Resources Power and Ports is commonly known as National Committee, Bangladesh. It was formed in 1998. It is a common platform for almost all left leaning political parties, many cultural and social organisation, student group and academicians. Our aim is to attain goals like ensuring cent percent public ownership on natural resources of Bangladesh, upholding national interest in every agreement with any other state or companies etc. The National Committee lead the 2006 Phulbari movement,  one of Bangladesh’s most successful movements. Through that movement people were successful in stopping the proposed disastrous open cut coal mine project in that area.

About Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)

For 30 years, APWLD is the region’s leading network of feminist organisations and women. Our 220 members represent groups of diverse women from 25 countries in the region. APWLD empowers women in the region to use law as an instrument of change for equality, justice, peace and development.  APWLD has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. We are an independent, non-government, non-profit organisation.

About National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN)

National Federation of Peasant Women (AMIHAN) is a mass organisation of peasant women and a federation of rural women’s organisations. It was established on October 26, 1986 as a response to the need to give a collective voice to the peasant women.

Protests held globally against Rampal plant

Nure Alam Durjoy

January 8, 2017

As part of a global day of action and in solidarity with the Save the Sundarbans movement, protests were held yesterday in Bangladesh as well as USA, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Germany, Norway, Finland, Italy, France, Canada and South Korea.

New York based Bangladeshi environmental groups Friends of the Earth US and allies held a protest in Union Square Park yesterday in New York city.

They were protesting the Rampal Power Plant, calling for all development of coal plants near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to be stopped immediately.

This global protests were called during the grand rally against the power plant on November 26 organised by the National Committee to Protect Oil-Gas-Mineral Resources Power and Port.

Protests were also held in Dhaka’s Shahbag area where Shorbopran Sangskritik Shakti brought out a rally in front of National Museum.

The National Committee member Secretary Professor Anu Muhammad said: “Environmental devastation in one part of the world directly affects another part of the world because nature has no borders and this is why people across the world took the streets to save the Sundarbans a crucial component of the global eco-system.”

Tapu Ahmed Muniruddin, an activist of the Save the Sundarbans movement said that the global protests were a clear indication of global solidarity to save the mangrove forest.

Zonayed Saki, coordinator of Gana Shanhati Andolon was adamant of the movement’s success saying that they will fight until the project is cancelled.

“People will not tolerate it anymore. Everything cannot be done by just muscle power! We need global support to show the government that the world is united in this cause,” he said.

The project has been heavily criticised by experts and environmentalists who opine that the plant will cause irrevocable damage to the Sundarbans forest.

The 1320MW Rampal coal-fired power plant is soon to be built within miles of the Sundarbans, home to thousands of indigenous communities as well as endangered species, including the Bengal tiger and Irawaddy dolphin.

The plant will also make some 50 million coastal people more vulnerable to natural disasters, as the Sundarbans is a natural safeguard against frequent cyclones, storms and other natural disasters.

In October 2016 the United Nations World Heritage Committee issued a report urging the Bangladeshi government to cancel the Rampal coal plant due to the threat it poses to the Sundarbans.

The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) Australia also urged President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to desist from the construction of a project that will not only endanger the lives of the communities near the said power facility but will also contribute to the climate crisis and deepen the vulnerability of Bangladesh to the effects of climate change.

A half-day hartal has been declared on January 26 by the National Committee if the government does not stop the construction of the plant.

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