Rampal Thermal Power Plant at Sundarbans, Bangladesh

Despite the long protest march earlier this year to stop the plant and protecting the Sundarbans forest, on July 12, 2016, a contract was signed to finally install the plant.


Description

Sundarbans is the natural habitat of famous ‘Royal Bengal Tiger' and the halophytic mangrove forest in the world. Due to its natural flora and fauna, UNESCO recognized Sundarbans as World Heritage Site in 1997. This nature’s wonder is under threat because of a recently proposed 320-MW thermal power plant to be established near the Sundarban at Rampal. In 2010, the Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Ltd, a Bangladesh-India joint venture between the state-run Power Development Board (PDB) of Bangladesh and India's National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), decided to set up the plant at Rampal at a cost of $1.5 billion; PDB and NTPC will implement the project on a 50:50 equity basis [2]. Of the total project cost, 70 per cent will arranged through loans and the remaining 30 per cent will equally be shared by the PDB and NTPC [2]. Land acquisition process was initiated in December 2010. Although the government is assuring that the coal-based project will be constructed using modern technology and will be less polluted, activists argue that as the power plant located very close to the Sundarban will certainly damage the natural habitat of Sundarban jungle [1].

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Basic Data
NameRampal Thermal Power Plant at Sundarbans, Bangladesh
CountryBangladesh
ProvinceBangladesh
SiteCity-Rampal, Bagerhat
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Thermal power plants
Specific CommoditiesLand
Electricity
Coal
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPower generation: 1320 MW

The proposed power plant will use about 4.75 million tonnes of coal annually. It will generate about 0.3 million tonnes ashes and around 0.5 million tonnes sludge and liquid waste. It would also emit a good amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) [5]

However the government sources claimed that the power plant will use modern technology so that pollution level can be minimized. Also the plant authorities ensured the protection of the mangrove forest and environmental management [2].

The plant is promoted by the Indian government-owned NTPC Ltd. The loan component of the plant is set to be provided by the Indian EXIM Bank. The main order for the construction of the plant was reported to be given to BHEL, again owned by the Indian government. http://www.huffingtonpost.in/jai-sharda/the-indiabangladesh-rampa_b_10625552.html
Project Area (in hectares)742
Level of Investment (in USD)1,500,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesBangladesh-India Friendship Power Company from Bangladesh
North-West Power Generation Co. Ltd (NWPGCL) from Bangladesh - Executor
National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) from India - Executor
Power Development Board (BPDB) from Bangladesh - Executor
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) from India
Relevant government actorsGovernment of India

Government of Bangladesh
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersNational Committee on Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Bangladesh
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Fishermen
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Strikes
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence
Outcome
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesThe protestors request the government to explore alternative site and means to generate energy without destroying the Sundarbans [2].

According to the protesters, discharge from the plant like fly ash and Sulphur dioxide will have disastrous consequences for the fauna and flora of the mangrove forests. The protesters say the plant is not merely dangerous for the Sundarbans' ecology but it also poses threat to local livelihoods. They demanded the Rampal Thermal Power Plant project in Bagerhat, just 14 km away from the Sundarbans, be shelved forever [6].

According to the protestors that ‘there are many alternatives for power generation, but there is no alternative for Sundarban.' They also ask Indian People to join them to save this World Heritage Site [3].
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Activists have pointed out that the project is a gross violation of Environment Conservation Act (1995) of Bangladesh. Also before the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) was done, 1834 acres of land, that was mostly agricultural and shrimp aquaculture pond had been acquired for the proposed 1320 MW power plant project. That was done by the government without the consent of the people by using police force and local goons [3]. For the EIA local people experts and concerned citizens opinions were also not taken.

People also raised questions that NTPC being the main executing agency cannot set up large coal based power plant within 20 to 25 km distance of forest, agricultural land and residential area in India. So they will not allow NTPC to set up a power plant to close to Sundarban in Bangladesh [3]

UPDATE July2016: Despite the long protest march earlier this year to stop the Rampal coal plant, and protecting the Sundarbans forest, on July 12 a contract was signed to finally install the plant.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

The Bangladesh Environment Conservation Act, 1995
[click to view]

References

Environmental Impact of Coal based Power Plant of Rampal on the Sundarbans and Surrounding areas by Dr. Abdullah Harun Chowdhury
[click to view]

Final Report on Environmental Impact Assessment of 2x (500-660) MW Coal Based Thermal Power Plant to be Constructed at the Location of

Khulna
[click to view]

Links

[1] Rampal power plant violates environmental law
[click to view]

[2] Protest over Indo-Bangla power project near Sundarbans
[click to view]

[3] Rampal Coal Fired Power Plant On Sundarbans: A Project Of Deception And Mass Destruction
[click to view]

[4] Who gains, who loses?
[click to view]

[5] Environmental Impact of Coal based Power Plant of Rampal on the Sundarbans and Surrounding areas by Dr. Abdullah Harun Chowdhury
[click to view]

[6] Activists launch march against power plant in Bangladesh
[click to view]

Rampal power station
[click to view]

Rampal power plant will threaten world's biggest mangrove forests: TIME
[click to view]

Dhaka Tribune, 14th July 2016 - Activists denounce Rampal deal
[click to view]

Daily Sun, 16th july 2016 - Fresh protests announced against Rampal coal power
[click to view]

Media Links

Long Live Sundarban
[click to view]

Other Documents

Activists of National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports protested against the Power Plant Source http://observerbd.com/2014/09/14/43103.php#sthash.Sgw07JXg.dpuf
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update23/10/2017
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