Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina smelt a conspiracy behind Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chairperson Khaleda Zia’s sudden open stance against the proposed coal-fired power plant at Rampal, 14kms off the world’s biggest mangrove forest, Sundarbans.
“An anti-development vested quarter has long been trying to create a negative attitude among people about the Rampal power plant project by making baseless, fabricated and imaginary statements and giving false information,” she told a press conference in Dhaka.
Sheikh Hasina further said, “The cat finally came out of bag on August 24. I used to think what was the source of power or instigation of those on a movement against Rampal power plant. It is now clear as Khaleda Zia openly joined the false campaign through a press conference, though she has long been instigating them from behind the scene.”
Mentioning that BNP has been maintaining silence on the issue for a long time, Hasina said, “I think there is a deep-rooted hidden conspiracy behind her joining the propaganda openly.”
Hasina arranged the press conference on the Rampal power plant at her official residence Ganobhaban. She said the proposed Rampal power plant will in no way harm the environment and the Sundarbans.“We’re going to set up an ultra super critical power plant at Rampal. The plant will be equipped with the best technologies of the world… the best quality coal will be imported from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa for use here. All sorts of modern technology will be used at the power plant to curb any kind of pollution,” she said.
The prime minister said no polluted water or boiled water will be dumped into the Pashur River flowing through the Sundarbans.
Instead, the river will be dredged regularly to maintain its navigation that will eventually be convenient for Mongla port.
The 1320-megawatt power plant project is a joint venture of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) and the National Thermal Power Corp Limited of India under the name of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company.
The Rampal power plant is located about 14 kilometres away from the outer boundary of the Sundarbans and 65 kilometres away from the world heritage site.International rule permits coal-based power plant beyond 10 kilometres area of a deep forest, she said.
Recalling the announcement of Unesco declaring the Sundarbans as a world heritage site in 1997, the prime minister said the recognition was earned during the time of the Awami League government due to its effective initiative.
Blasting BNP chairperson for joining the propaganda against the power plant, the prime minister said, “Position of the BNP chairperson is like that of showing more sympathy to a child by an aunt than one’s mother.”
Sheikh Hasina said the proposed Bangladesh-India Friendship Thermal Power Plant at Rampal is one of those coal-based plants the government has decided to install in different parts of the country to meet the growing electricity demand and to reach electricity to people at a logical price.
The prime minister said all the information and data furnished by BNP leader about the power plant are “false, fabricated and Misguiding.” She has come up with the false information to misguide the people, she said.
Terming coal as the most reliable resource of future energy, the prime minister said in near future it would be impossible to continue supply of natural gas to the country’s gas-based power plants.
Developed countries like USA, France, Germany, China, Japan and neighbouring India meet about 40 to 98% of their electricity demand with coal-based power. But, coal-based power in Bangladesh is a little bit more than 1%, she said. The press conference of the prime minister was held against the backdrop of constant propaganda and agitation by a group of people to press home their demand to abandon construction of the Rampal Power Plant and finally Khaleda Zia’s support to the campaigners.
In the press conference, the prime minister came up with necessary information, data and study report saying, “I would be the first person to protest against the power plant if it would have any little impact on Sundarbans.”