Global demonstrations protest coal plant threatening world’s largest mangrove forest

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friendsofearthNEW YORK, N.Y. As part of a global day of action and in solidarity with the Save the Sundarbans movement, New York-based Bangladeshi environmental groups, Friends of the Earth U.S. and allies will hold a protest on Saturday, January 7 at Union Square Park calling for all development of coal plants near the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bangladesh, to be stopped immediately.

 

The 1320 MW Rampal coal-fired power plant is proposed to be built just miles away from the Sundarbans, home to thousands of indigenous communities as well as endangered species, including the Bengal tiger and Irawaddy dolphin. It would also make some 50 million coastal people more vulnerable to natural disasters, as the Sundarbans is a natural safeguard against frequent cyclones, storms and other natural disasters. In October 2016 the United Nations World Heritage Committee issued a report urging the Bangladeshi government to cancel the Rampal coal plant due to the threats it poses to the Sundarbans.

 

The India-Bangladesh Friendship Power Company recently secured financing for the Rampal coal project from India’s Export Import Bank, and construction is expected to start soon. Pressure is also mounting for banks, including JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, to divest from the project.

 

As part of this global day of action protests will also be held in the U.K., the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and Indonesia. A protest held in Bangladesh in November 2016 drew over 15,000 people.

 

Groups participating in the Union Square protest include: Ecology Movement (Protibesh Andolon), Bangladesh Environmental Network NYC, Progressive Forum Udichi, Supporters of the Bangladesh Communist Party and Friends of the Earth U.S.

 

Speakers include:

  • Esa Abrar Khan, Architect & Activist, International Secretary of Ecology Movement
  • Jenny Bock, Friends of the Earth U.S. Campaigner
  • Naeem Mohaimein, Historian
  • Mosharraf Khan, Supporters of the Bangladesh Communist Party
  • Mamoon, Progressive Forum Udichi

 

Comments from speakers:

 

“How can such a devastating establishment as the Rampal plant be located so close to a UNESCO World Heritage Site? The Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world. This issue is not only a domestic issue that Bangladeshis care about. It has become an international issue. People all over the world care about protecting the Sundarbans and its precious treasures like the Bengal tiger. Also the Sundarbans saved Bangladesh from various natural calamities like SIDR and Aila. So if we don’t stop this project then it will become a huge international devastation of environmental rights.” said Esa Abrar Khan, International Secretary of Ecology Movement (Protibesh Andolon).

 

“Opposition to the Rampal coal plant in Bangladesh is global. From Bangladesh and Indonesia to Germany and the U.S., the public knows that fossil fuels must stay in the ground,  and that the future belongs to renewables — for the sake of our climate, people’s livelihoods and precious natural wonders like the Sundarbans,” said Jenny Bock, Economic Justice Campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S. “Bangladesh’s government should expand the country’s already flourishing solar industry to improve access to electricity and help the country develop sustainably, neither of which will be accomplished by building a coal plant near the Sundarbans.”

 

 

Friends of the Earth fights to create a more healthy and just world. Our current campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, ensuring the food we eat and products we use are safe and sustainable, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.