Addressing the discussion, BAPA president Sultana Kamal said all the coastal embankments in Bangladesh will be destroyed if there is no Sundarbans. Realising this, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called on all to protect the forest. He knew if there is no Sundarbans, coastal people’s lives and livelihood will be completely destroyed and cyclonic storms would reach the central part of the country.

Sultana Kamal further said, “We have to work with love to protect the Sundarbans.”

Professor Anu Muhammad at Jahangirnagar University said, “Many special days are today (Monday) -- Sundarbans Day, Valentine’s Day, Autocracy Resistance Day. There is no clash among the days. Because, if an attack is carried out against the Sundarbans in an autocratic way, we have to work to save it if there is love for it.”

He alleged two cliques led by the government are working to destroy the Sundarbans. China and India are constructing two power plants at two sides of the forest.

Anu Muhammad also said there is no crisis of electricity in the country. The government has been paying as subsidy Tk 100 billion (10,000 crore) every year for the capacity to produce more electricity than necessity.

Speaking at the discussion, Professor Abdullah Harun Chowdhury of Environmental Science department at Khulna University said economic initiatives have increased around the Sundarbans. Different industrial units are being constructed near Mongla port. Steps are being taken for tourism business centering newly formed Bangabandhu Char. As a result, the biodiversity at Sundarbans has been facing threats, he added.

BAPA general secretary Sharif Jamil said at the requests of UNESCO, the government has conducted a strategic survey to find out ways to protect Sundarbans. But initiatives are underway on how to legalise the polluters, he alleged.

Though they were supposed to hold discussion with all the stakeholders before conducting the study, they did not talk to most of the experts.

Different aspects of damage of the Sundarbans were highlighted in the discussion. The speakers said influential people, with the assistance of unscrupulous forest department officials, set fire to the forest to clear some parts and dig holes for fishing in the monsoon period. This is how the Sundarbans is being destroyed.

They further said seven to eight launches are moving through the Sundarbans every day. Discarded food packets and sound pollution is also harming the forest.

The discussants said aside from the survey conducted by the government, a counter survey by the environmentalists is necessary.

Journalist Mohsinul Hakim, BAPA’s Mongla branch committee convener Nure Alam and several other environmentalists took part in the discussion.