Bangladesh to invite WHC team to visit Sundarbans

Prothom Alo English Desk | Update:

Bangladesh will invite World Heritage Committee (WHC) team to visit the Sundarbans and adjoining areas to prepare report on the environmental issue regarding the Rampal power plant, prime minister's energy advisor Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury said Wednesday, UNB reports.

"We'll fully cooperate with the WHC team although it wasn't an obligation for Bangladesh to invite them," he said while briefing reporters on Bangladesh's joining of the 43rd WHC session in Azerbaijan.

He said 21 member nations, including Bangladesh, joined the conference.

When the issue of Sundarbans came up for talks, a committee of the UN body raised objection about the ongoing works around Sundarbans giving some misleading information.

"But the Bangladesh delegation explained our positions. China, on behalf of Bangladesh, placed the matter in the conference," he said.

"Some 16 nations, led by China, supported Bangladesh's stance and cleared the way for moving ahead with the power plant project," said Chowdhury, who led the Bangladesh delegation at WHC.

He said at the end of the session, Bangladesh agreed to do three things - inviting the WHC team, implementing a contingency plan for ensuring water flow in the Sundarbans, and preparing a strategic environment assessment plan.

He, however, said these are not obligations for Bangladesh.

Chowdhury claimed that the WHC appreciated the government's steps taken so far for protecting the environment of Sundarbans.

Replying to a question, former director general of Department of Environment (DoE) and currently Rajuk chairman Sultan Ahmed said some 154 industries around Sundarbans were set up much before and some of them were set up more than 70 years ago.
He said the DoE conducted survey on them and found 24 as "Red category" industry. "But none of them are found to be blamed for polluting environment as they don't release water or carbon," he said.

Power secretary Ahmad Kaikaus said the number of tigers has increased in Sundarbans and also the area of the forest has increased due to the steps taken by the government.

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