Save Bengal Tigers and their home- The Sundarbans

The Sundarbans  the land of Bengal Tigers,the largest mangrove  forest and well known tourist spot is about to get destroyed by an power plant project. The proposed Rampal power plant project which is based on coal in Bangladesh will bring more harm than good for the country destroying the world heritage Sundarbans, according to an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The EIA of physical, biological, social and economic environment indicates that most of the impacts of the coal-fired power plant are negative and irreversible, which can’t be mitigated in any way. So the climate, topography, land use pattern, air and water (surface and ground both) quality, wetlands, floral and faunal diversity, capture fisheries and tourism in the Sundarbans will be affected permanently due to the proposed coal-fired power plant. The study area is not suitable for industrialisation and urbanisation . By establishing the coal-fired power plant, only electrification in the rural area, and a very few job and localized business facilities will be increased. But, the benefits of power plant is very poor than that of negative irreversible impact.The power plant will generate 7 lakh tonnes of sky ash and 2 lakh tonnes of bottom ash per year. As the ashes contain sulfur, carbon dioxide, arsenic, mercury, lead, chromium, and cadmium, it will bring harm to the environment. Moreover, 142 tons of SO2 and 85 tons of NO2 will be emitted daily from the 1320 MW coal power plant. This will obviously increase the concentration of SO2 and NO2 in the ambient air near Sundarbans region which will destructive for whole the environment of the region.Not only this , the plant will have impacts on it's habitats also.Let's discuss that part -

Effects on habitats and global climate:

As mentioned before -The Rampal power plant, once in operation, will emit 7.9 million tons of CO2 per year for the next 25 years, therefore adding a further major load to an atmosphere that is already saturated with greenhouse gases. If the world is to have any chance to limit the global temperature rise below the critical 2 degrees Celsius threshold agreed upon by the countries of the world last year in Paris, let alone the 1.5 degrees threshold considered crucial to keep life on earth more or less as we know it, there must be an immediate end to the construction of all coal plants.

Bangladesh, as well as India and other vulnerable countries, have already been suffering the effects of climate change, with strong storms causing devastating flooding. Weakening the Sundarbans would only leave Bangladesh and parts of India defenseless in the face of natural catastrophes that are now likely to rise in frequency and intensity.

Climate, topography, land use patterns, air and water (both surface and ground) quality, floral and faunal diversity, wetlands and tourism will be permanently affected by the proposed coal fired power plant. The Rampal plant will pollute the air by releasing toxic gases which will impact people, animals, trees, plants and land. The plant will contaminate rivers by discharging used, warm water into the River Passur daily, for at least 25 years. Additionally the rivers of the Sundarbans will be used as shipping routes to carry coal to the Rampal site. The four recent incidents involving sunken vessels which dumped oil, fertilizer and coal in the rivers stand as clear warnings of the accidents that will take place if the Rampal coal plant plans proceed.

The EIA acknowledge the losses of these : “Acquired land includes shrimp aquaculture farm, mangrove, intertidal area, and tidal creeks which are used as, fish habitat. Acquisition of these lands might cause loss of these habitats.… Construction work including land filling by dredging, sand lifting, site clearance and physical construction of plant setup etc. which may have impacts on open water fish habitats, fish diversity and hence to some extent on capture fisheries production… Open water fisheries habitats like rivers (Passur, Maidara), khals and inter-tidal area may be affected due to dredging, traffic movements, and oil and chemical spilling. Dredging activities may also alter the habitat of the bottom feeder fish for short period.” (Page 266)

It has been estimated that water at the rate of 9,150 m3/hour will be drawn

from the Passur River for operating the project and 5,150 m3/hour water will be discharged to the river.This will create scarcity of pure drinking water for Sundarban's habitats.During a study researchers observed that every liter of water collected from the Passur river contained 500 to 1,200 eggs of fish and other organisms. He pointed out that the government report claims that the power plant will use 9,150 cubic meters – or 9.1 million liters – of water per hour to transform coal into electricity. In other words, based on the results of this study, the water consumption of the plant alone could result in the destruction of 4.5 billion to 11 billion eggs per hour of operation.

Effects on Bengal Tigers

Sundarbans is home to some of the last remaining iconic Bengal tigers, as well as the estuarine crocodile, the Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins, the Indian python, some 260 bird species and around 120 aquatic species. If the coal power plant becomes operational, the toxic discharged water and polluted air, as well as the constant coal transport, will have a destructive effect on all life in the forest. It is not possible to protect high profile animals in the Sundarbans without a true balance between various ecosystems. Tigers will not be there without the deer, and deer will not be there without the keora tree. If the Sundarbans degenerates we will be forever losing the animals which depend on it, with future generations no longer able to enjoy the splendid sight of these animals.

Effects  on livelihood of two million people

The EIA states that: “The land use of the area is dominated by shrimp aquaculture cum rice cultivation. In general, this agricultural land covers 75% of the study area and 95% of the project area.”

Over two million people living in villages around the forest depend on the Sundarbans forest’s resources to fulfill their basic needs, while others make use of products to earn a living. The vast majority relies on aquatic resources such as shrimp cultivation or fisheries. Wood is collected for the construction of houses and boats but also for export. Acres of land acquired to build the coal plant were previously used for agriculture and farming activities. With increased river erosion, noise pollution, health hazards and a decrease in the groundwater table as a result of the Rampal coal-fired power plant, there will inevitably be a loss of culture fisheries, social forestry and major destruction of agriculture.

Conclusion:

So in a nutshell this project is the death sentence for Sundarbans, extinction of Bengal Tigers, dawn of a lot of aquatic lives. If this project can't be stopped then 

         1. We'll lose Sundarbans along with it's valuable habitats some of which are endemic to Sundarbans among which Bengal Tigers are most important.
         2. The shore area will be off-guard to natural calamities.
         3. The food chain, eco-system of the project area will totally get destroyed.

         4. The environment will face aterrible threat.

         5. About 100 Bengal Tigers will lose their place.

         6. About two million people who are related to agriculture,will lose their livelihood.

It's my humble request to all SAVE SUNDARBAN AND IT'S HABITATS, Save Bengal Tigers.

About UNESCO World Heritage:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/452 in India

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/798 in Bangladesh

General information on Rampal, the Sundarbans and mangroves:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/03/16/3760217/sundarbans-coal-plant-protest/

https://news.mongabay.com/2016/02/bangladesh-sticks-with-coal-power-plant-project-despite-major-backlash/

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/mar/02/thousands-to-march-protest-coal-plant-threat-bangladeshs-sundarbans-forest

http://www.southasianrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Report-of-the-FFM-Rampa-Bangladesh.pdf

https://counterview.org/2016/02/03/breaking-the-chain-of-historical-injustice-dalits-and-adivasis-assert-their-rights-over-sundarban-forest/

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/forest-staff-molesting-women-in-sunderbans-claim-activists/article8194595.ece

                                                                                                     

This petition will be delivered to:
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    Sheikh Hasina
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    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


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