Rampal coal plant poses a ‘serious threat’ to a key ecosystem for Bengal tigers and must be cancelled, says the UN world heritage body
The UN’s world heritage body has made an urgent intervention to stop the construction of a coal power station in Bangladesh. Unesco said the plant could damage the world heritage-listed Sundarbans mangrove forest, which houses up to 450 Bengal tigers.
A fact finding mission, published by Unesco and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Tuesday, found that the proposed site of the Rampal coal power plant, which is 65km north of the Sundarbans world heritage area, would expose the downriver forests to pollution and acid rain.
Ships carrying coal and other material for the plant’s functioning will move through the mangrove reserve, requiring dredging and dumping of 32.1 million cubic metres of river bottom at first and further annual dredging. This threatens the breeding grounds of the endangered Ganges and Irrawaddy river dolphins.
Fresh water supply to the mangroves, already stretched by agriculture, must not be placed under any more stress, the observers said. Their report concluded that the power station posed “a serious threat to the site”.
“The mission recommends that the Rampal power plant project be cancelled and relocated to a more suitable location,” said a Unesco statement on Tuesday. The statement also warned Bangladesh that the Sundarbans forest reserve would be considered for possible inscription on the list of world heritage in danger at the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee in 2017.
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