> Press Release: More Than 70 Civil Society Organisations Urge Bangladeshi and Indian Prime Ministers to Protect Sundarbans From Coal-fired Power Plant

Press Release: More Than 70 Civil Society Organisations Urge Bangladeshi and Indian Prime Ministers to Protect Sundarbans From Coal-fired Power Plant

Bangladeshi and Indian Prime Ministers urged to protect Sundarbans from coal-fired power plant in open letter signed by more than 70 civil society organisations 


Photo: Navid Bin Sakhawat

30 March, 2017

Chiang Mai 

Today, more than 70 non-governmental organisations from around the world called for the cancellation of the proposed Rampal coal power plant, in an open letter to the governments of Bangladesh and India. The proposed 1320 megawatt Rampal plant, construction of which is planned to start soon, would threaten the world’s largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans in Bangladesh, as well as the health and livelihoods of millions of local people.

The Sundarbans is a Ramsar-listed wetland and also includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has an extremely rich biodiversity and is of critical importance for globally endangered species, including the Royal Bengal Tiger and Ganges River Dolphin. The Sundarbans also plays a key role in mitigating the impacts of climate change, acting as a carbon sink in its undisturbed natural state, and as a barrier against cyclones, storms and other natural disastersthat would become more frequent and intense as more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

“The unique ecosystem and biodiversity of the Sundarbans are under severe threat from the planned Rampal power plant,” said Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa. “Local peoples’ right of access to natural resources from the mangrove forests would be at risk. Although Bangladesh has the fundamental right to develop, this right belongs to all of its people, including the most marginalised, and should not be monopolised by big corporations whose only aim is to make profits, often at the expense of the environment and local communities.”

The Rampal power plant is a joint project of India’s state owned National Thermal Power Corporation and the Bangladesh Power Development Board. In October 2016, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the IUCN identified four key main impacts(1)  related to the power plant’s construction: pollution from coal ash by air, pollution from wastewater and waste ash, increased shipping and dredging, and the cumulative impact of industrial and related infrastructure. They both recommend the cancellation of the Rampal power plant project.

“The availability of so-called modern technology is being used as an argument in support of the Rampal project, but this will definitely not keep its pollution to a minimum level,” said Amanda Tas from Protect the Forest, Sweden. “During recent years, coal-carrying vessels have sunk, and one oil spill has already occurred in the area. Rather than to build a climate-damaging coal-fired power plant, both India and Bangladesh should develop renewable sources of clean energy, respecting the environment, and benefiting all inhabitants of the Sundarbans. This must also include the most marginalised, who being largely off the electricity supply grid, and would not benefit from energy produced by the proposed Rampal power plant.”

In the open letter, the organisations call on political decision-makers to immediately halt the Rampal power plant project and other commercial projects in the Sundarbans and its surroundings, and to increase investments in renewable solar and wind power projects. They also urge the Government of Bangladesh to uphold the right to assemble, and to protect the safety of people that exercise this right, including the right to protest against government-approved projects. In January, police used teargas and water cannons against peaceful protesters, injuring about 100 people during a hartal in Dhaka, which was held to save the Sundarbans.

Read the open letter here


Camille Risler

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand

Email: camille@apwld.org

Phone: +66 99 504 8764

Amanda Tas

Protect the Forest, Sweden

Email: amanda.tas@skyddaskogen.se 

Mobile: +46 (0)73-5860099

Wally Menne

Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa

Email: plantnet@iafrica.com 

Mobile: +27 (0) 82 4442083

Press contact 

Neha Gupta

APWLD, India

Email: neha@apwld.org

Phone: +91-9810 078 055


(1) IUCN & World Heritage Centre (2016). Report on the mission to the Sundarbans world heritage site, Bangladesh, from 22 to 28 March 2016; http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/148097 

The open letter is supported by the following NGOs: 

Abibiman Foundation, Ghana

AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women, Philippines

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Pacific

BankTrack, International

Biofuelwatch, UK/USA

Botswana Climate Change Network

Botswana Friends of the Earth , Bosnia and Herzegovina

CHAUKATH voluntary network of feminists, Nepal

Climate Action Network, International Climate Litigation Network, Transnational Conservatree, USA

Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC), Philippines

Cultures of Resistance Network Foundation EcoNexus, UK Ecoropa, Germany

Feminist League, Kazakhstan

Forum Environment and Development, Germany

Forum for Nature Protection NGO, Nepal

Foundation for GAIA, International

Fragile Planet Earth, South Africa

Friends of the Earth US, USA

Friends of the Siberian Forests, Russia

Friends of the Tamar Valley, UK

Nature and Youth, Sweden

GenderCC – Women for Climate Justice e.V., International

Genethics Foundation, Netherlands

Global Environment Centre, Malaysia

Global Forest Coalition, International

Green IT., Uruguay

Greenpeace Russia

Grupo Para o Desenvolvimento da Mulher e Rapariga, Mozambique

IBON International


Governments for Sustainability – Africa, South Africa

Institute for Planetary Synthesis, Switzerland

Janabhivyakti, India

Japan Tiger and Elephant Fund, Japan

Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN), Japan

Friends of the Earth, Sweden

Klimataktion Stockholm, Sweden

Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, Korea

Michael Underwood Agroforestry Associates Africa, South Africa

Mom Loves Taiwan Association, Taiwan

National Indigenous Women Forum, Nepal

NCA-Afghanistan, Afghanistan

New Wind Association, Finland

Next Big Thing Movement, Inc, USA

Oil Change International Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), USA

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER), Malaysia

Planetary Association for Clean Energy (PACE), Canada

Protect the Forest, Sweden

PUSH Sweden

Quercus- National Association for Nature Conservation, Portugal

Rainbow Eco-Farm and Training Center NPO, South Africa

Re-nourish, USA

Rettet den Regenwald, Germany

Rewild, South Africa

Rutale Development Association, Africa

Students for a Just and Stable Future, USA

SustainUS, USA

Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden

Tanzania Youth Coalition, Tanzania

TFINS, India

Thanal, India

The Endangered Wildlife Trust, South Africa

Timberwatch Coalition, South Africa

WECF Women Engage for a Common Future, International

Wildlife Impact, USA

Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO), International

World Heritage International, Netherlands

YouthNet for Climate Justice, Bangladesh

2018-08-28T02:14:35+07:00March 30th, 2017|Climate Justice, Press Releases|