Environmentalists seek to keep Bangladeshi poor in the dark

Voice of America (VOA) reports news out of Bangladesh that several environmentalist groups in the country are staunchly opposing a new coal-fired power plant to be built near the Sundarbans region in Bangladesh. The greens allege that, if allowed to operate, the power plant will do great harm to the world’s largest mangrove forest that is .

The plant is part of a 2010 agreement ratified by Bangladesh and India to build the $1.7 billion plant in Rampal. The Bangladeshi government insists the plant will pose no harm to the forest which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Natural Heritage Site. Environmentalists and other critics of the plant are not convinced stating that the plant’s discharge will compromise the ecology of the forest. Since the joint agreement was signed by the two countries, there have been massive protests in Bangladesh calling for the power plant to be sacked. No reports if environmentalists are protesting the plant in India.

What also should be of note from the Voice of America news report is the consequence of power plant construction being stopped:

The World Bank says as much as 40 percent of Bangladesh’s population has no access to electricity and businesses are being affected by power shortages.

The country has the capacity to generate about 14,000 megawatts of electricity, far short of current needs. And according to an estimate by the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), the national demand for power will top 35,000 megawatts by 2030. To deal with the problem, the government has plans to set up 25 coal-fired plants that would generate an additional 15,000 megawatts by the end of the next decade.

The power plant would be of enormous benefit to the development of the population of Bangladesh. But as far as the environmentalists are concerned, the needs of poor Bangladesh locals (who are in need of access to electricity) are to be sacrificed to preserve the way of the existence of a nearby forest. I am sure if the locals were interviewed they would want the plant to be built since residents could use the jobs and development along with the electric power it would generate which enhances their quality of life. The environmentalists, however, think otherwise and are flexing their money and power to ensure they get their way. The needs of human beings (other than themselves) be damned.