Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has blasted groups and individuals opposing the Rampal coal power plant for spreading “negative, baseless, fictitious and misleading information” and questioned the motive of BNP chief Khaleda Zia for supporting the protests.
At a press conference yesterday at Ganabhaban, Hasina reiterated that the 1,320MW plant would not cause any harm to the Sundarbans mangrove forest. She alleged that the protesters were creating panic among the people by portraying the project as destructive, reports the Dhaka Tribune. Hasina, who unveiled the foundation plaque of the project on October 5, 2013, smelt conspiracy in BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s expressing solidarity with the anti-Rampal movement.
The government maintains that they would use high-end technology at the plant to mitigate environmental hazards and that the process would be monitored by the regulator, Department of Environment. From an agitation programme at the Central Shaheed Minar on August 20, the National Committee announced to observe Dhaka March on November 24 if the government does not cancel the project by this time, and a grand rally in Dhaka on November 26.
Labelling the protesters as “anti-development vested quarters,” Hasina said that the plant’s location was about 14km away from the outer boundary of the Sundarbans and that the government would plant around 5 lakh trees in the surrounding area of the plant.
Meanwhile, leaders of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports has termed Hasina’s speech defending the Rampal coal power plant unfortunate and said it was influenced by the contractor’s advertising campaign In reaction to Hasina’s questioning the sources of funds for the movement, the committee said that they were opposing the project based on scientific data and evidence, and that the people joined them spontaneously.