A study report released by Greenpeace, a global environmental organization, on Friday revealed that a mega coal -fired power plant on the edge of Sundarban could cause premature deaths of around 6,000 people over its lifetime.
The report also suggests that about 24,000 babies will be born underweight, if the coal-fired thermal power plant project is implemented in Rampal.
Such misfortune will happen during 40- year lifetime of the power plant, suggests the report.
National Committee to Protect the Sundarban (NCPS), Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Doctors for Health and Environment (DHE) organised a press conference for launching the study report at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.
Greenpeace came up with the new study that says the coal-fired power plant at Rampal upazila in Bagerhat will increase 24-hour average ambient levels of nitrogen dioxide in nearby localities which is up to 25 percent over the current national urban average and sulphur oxide levels up to 50 percent over the urban average.
“Emission limits for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, dust and mercury, as specified in the tender documents, are five to ten times higher than the best regulatory practice and technical state-of-the-art emission levels,” it added.
The plant could emit high levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin, that damages children’s brains and nervous systems and it could be sufficient to render fish unsafe to eat over an area of approximately 70 square kilometres around the power plant.
Additionally, 10,000kg of mercury over the life of the plant could end up in either the coal ash pond, which is subject to flooding, said Lauri Myllyvirta of Greenpeace.
This additional mercury will pose further risks to the aquatic food chain of the Sundarban and the Bay of Bengal, impacting millions of people, the study added.
Convener of the National Committee to Protect the Sundarban Sultana Kamal, its member secretary Dr Abdul Matin and President of Doctors for Health and Environment Dr Nazmun Nahar also spoke at the press conference.
The proposed 1,320-megawatt plant, a joint partnership between India’s state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh Power Development Board, is on an area of over
1,834 acres of land and situated 14 kilometres north of the world’s largest mangrove forest the Sundarban, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Green groups have been opposing the power plant since the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bangladesh and India in 2010.
The United Nations has also urged Bangladesh to stop construction, warning it poses an unacceptable risk to Sundarban that provide a barrier against deadly storm surges and cyclones.
The government, however, has been emphatic on implementing the project and moving forward to implement the project, saying it was using the best technologies available to prevent the possible damages.