The Sundarbans – the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to Bengal tigers and millions of villagers – has weathered cyclones and tsunamis. Now the UNESCO World Heritage Site faces a new threat: the planned Rampal coal power plant in Bangladesh. Tell Exim Bank India to cancel the financing of this potentially disastrous project.
The Sundarbans: thousands of islands dot this unique realm between the dry land of the Subcontinent and the Bay of Bengal, the most extensive mangrove forest on Earth. A dwindling population of Bengal tigers roam the land in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers. The estuarine crocodile, the Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins and the Indian python are also at home there.
The Sundarbans’ rich biodiversity prompted UNESCO to declare the forest a World Heritage Site. However, this paradise is now in danger:
The Rampal coal power plant is to be built in Bangladesh, only 14 kilometers from the mangroves. Preliminary work is already underway. The 1,320 MW plant is a joint venture of the Indian and Bangladeshi governments.
Environmentalists are alarmed at the prospect: The plant would have a massive impact on the delicate ecosystem and push numerous species toward extinction. The mangroves serve as a nursery for fish, molluscs and crustaceans, and the plant’s emissions into the river Passur would thus threaten the food security of more than two million people.
The plant would also release 220 tons of toxic air pollutants daily and wreak havoc on the climate with vast amounts of carbon dioxide.
Rampal would consume up to 500 shiploads of coal every year – assuming the ships safely navigate the 65-kilometer passage through the maze of islands. Accidents and oil spills are virtually pre-programmed.
Exim Bank India – in which the Indian government holds a 69% stake – is set to finance the project to the tune of $1.6 billion. Please speak out for the people and environment of the Sundarbans and call on Exim Bank India to withdraw from the project.