Protests disrupt Bangladesh power-plant plan

Campaigners for clean energy force shelving of construction of coal-fired power station near Sundarban mangrove swamp.

    Protests in the southern Bangladesh province of Khulna have forced the postponement of government plans to build a coal-fired power station near the world's biggest mangrove swamp.

    We do need electricity for development, but not at the expense of destroying Sundarban forest

    Ummau Habiba Benazir, protester

    Campaigners insist on the use of clean energy, arguing that the mangrove swamp, which is a World Heritage site, will be damaged by the smoke, ash and noise from the power plant.

    Coal is the cheapest option to provide energy to Bangladesh's population of 160 million, a third of which has no access to electricity.

    Sundarban, the region with the largest block of mangrove forests, is considered to be already under threat from overpopulation and inadequate infrastructure.

    BD Rahmatullah, a former government energy head, said: "We are fighting not for coal-based power station but for power to be produced from clean source energy - that is wind, solar and biomass."

    Bangladesh, vulnerable to climate change, has witnessed millions of lives and hectares of crops affected from flooding and extreme heat.

    "We do need electricity for development, but not at the expense of destroying Sundarban forest," Ummau Habiba Benazir, a protester, said.

    She said use of coal would harm the country's natural forests.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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