A recent Global Day of Protest for the Sundarbans united voices from across the globe calling for the preservation of the world’s largest single tract of mangrove forest, home of endangered species like the Royal Bengal tiger and the Irrawaddy dolphin. Organizers estimate that up to 4,000 people showed their solidarity with the five year-long popular resistance movement opposing the construction of the Rampal power plant in Bangladesh.
Listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO due to its outstanding biodiversity, and designated a Ramsar site because of the global importance of its freshwater ecosystems, the Sundarbans’ natural values face the threat from a 1320 MW coal-fired power plant projected by the Indian government’s National Thermal Power Company (NTPC) and Bangladesh’s power development board, through a venture called the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Limited (BIFPCL). According to the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, the negative impacts from the operation of this plant will not only put the livelihoods of at least 3.5 million people at risk, but it will make the lives of around 50 million coastal people vulnerable to natural disasters as the Sundarbans also represent a natural safeguard against frequent cyclones, storms and other natural disasters in the country.
People took to the streets in Dhaka,The Hague, London, Berlin, Paris, Gwangju, Hordaland, Turku, Kolkata, New York and Melbourne –to name a few– in response to the call made last November, during the grand rally that took place in Dhaka, where 15,000 people gathered after days of marching from different parts of the country to the capital.
Despite the global opposition to the Rampal plant, a recent recommendation from UNESCO to scrap and relocate the project, and dissent expressed even by Bangladesh government officials, access and commercial infrastructure for the Rampal plant is already being developed.
Meanwhile, civil society organizations continue to call on the Bangladesh government to cancel the coal-powered Rampal plant and continue developing the country’s leadership in solar energy generation.
Also watch this short video from the demonstration in Dhaka.
More images from the Global Day of Protest are available on this gallery.