A Greenpeace report has warned that a coal-fired power plant funded by Japan in Bangladesh threatened a vast environmental disaster which became a major concern for the locals, despite the project’s benefits.
The Matarbari power plant in Maheshkhali near the southeastern coastal town of Cox’s Bazar is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The report estimates that the number of premature deaths would be up to 14,000 due to pollution by the plant over the next 30 years. It said the project will exacerbate climate consequences on Bangladesh, which is already vulnerable, by releasing millions of tons of Carbon dioxide throughout the plants’ lifetimes. The report said the project will also destroy the fisheries industries, agriculture and ecology.
Meanwhile, a group of 44 civil society organizations and climate movement platforms from 18 countries has called on Japan to stop financing the Matarbari power plant project phase two.
In a letter to the Japanese government, the forum of Bangladeshi progressive development activists and organizations also voiced major human rights and environmental concerns over the power plant.
The letter claims that adding more power capacity will lead to financial calamity for Bangladesh because the Covid-19 outbreak has already reduced electricity usage dramatically.
Residents and local community leaders said that fishes are reduced in the surrounding areas of the sea of Bay of Bengal near the Matarbari Plant project which causes thousands of unemployment for the local fishermen who were living by catching fish and making fishing nets.
They said that to make high lands for the project, small island was dredged to pull soil. They added waves are hitting the Dams which were protected by those small islands of surrounding banks Moheshkhali causing evasion of the dams by the Bay of Bengal.
The communities have also lost traditional livelihoods in salt cultivation and shrimp farming. The plant’s first phase will have a 1200 MW capacity while the second phase will generate an additional 12 MW of power.
“Before taking 2600 acres of land for the Coal Power Plant, we were living happily. Now we have no food as our lands are acquired without any conditions. We are starving,” said Abdul Jabbar, a local community leader in Cox’s Bazar city.