Most recently the storm Aila has taken quite a toll on the world's largest tidal halophytic mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage site but just to make it worse a coal-fired power plant is getting shoved in it's 14 km radius.
Coal produces about 40% of world's power and almost one third of global carbon dioxide emissions come from burning coal. The humongous quantity of Carbon Di oxide (CO2) produced during the coal combustion is more of a Global warming concern than local. Some pollutants of concern at local level for Coal fired power plants are:
- Nitrogen oxides(NOx) that in combination with other pollutants form ground-level ozone or SMOG
- Sulphur dioxide(SOx) which is an acknowledged as major factor in causing acid-rain damage
- Lead,Heavy metals including cadmium and chromium that are known as cancer causing toxins.
- Mercury, in even tiniest amount can have a devastating impact, if humans are exposed to mercury it is likely to cause brain and kidney damage and even death
These toxic pollutants cause irreparable damage to the environment, people’s health and communities. The cost of such a damage is never estimated with the cost of production. The coal industry isn't going to pay for health and environmental damages, but the community and the surrounding environment will. It's nearly impossible to put dollar or Taka value to the damage the power plant will be causing. Surely the govt forgot to take a holistic approach and include the social cost of pollution which could essentially double or even triple the production cost in long run depending on the impacts caused by the proposed plant.
Why should there be no coal fired power plants in 14km radius of the largest mangrove forest of the world? Let me draw your attention to some facts! Besides the spectacular Royal Bengal Tiger, the mangrove forest harbors a wide range of rare and globally threatened or endemic animals such as Estuarine Crocodile, Fishing Cat, Otter, Water Monitor lizard, Gangetic Dolphin, Snubfin dolphin, marine turtles, Green Sea Turtle, Some species of Shark and Ray. It's also the home of Wild boars, Spotted deer, Jungle cat, Leopard cat, the Indian porcupine and Rhesus macaque, the King cobra, common cobra, Banded krait, Russells Viper and other species of non-venomous snakes. The ecological diversity of the Sundarbans also supports a large variety of birds, trees, shrubs, grasses, epiphytes, and lianas and this indicates that Sundarbans is surely a natural biodiversity hot spot. The proposed plant will devastate waterways leading to the forest and will have extensive impact on vegetation that supports the extra ordinary bio-diversity.
Last but not the least, the Sundarbans is already threatened with reclamation of lands for agriculture, the higher salinity and the climate change induced extreme weather events. The question that one must ask now is, do we want a wrongfully cost analyzed coal power plant at the cost of the world's largest Mangrove forest? Or should we stand against it?