Bangladesh – Matarbari power plant may kill 14,000 people
Dateline: Moheshkhali, Cox’sbazar, Bangladesh
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 on the surrounding areas of the sea of Bay of Bengal near the Matarbari Plant project which causes thousands of unemployment of 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.
Soundbite: Abu Bakar Siddiki, General Secretary, Bangladesh Paribash Andolon (Environment Saving Movement), Moheshkhali Unit, Cox’s Bazar
“My right-side portion of the big sea is the West part of Matarbari. Adjacent with this huge dam, there was a big island. To fill up the low lands of Coal Power Plant project, the island is being dredged and this island is now going to be abolished. Evasion of this dam started after the abolishing of that island. Now hundreds of families living in this area with the dare of death in every seconds.”
Soundbite: Md. Abdul Jabbar, local community leader, Matarbari, Cox’s Bazar
“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. For the sake of God, we are not telling lie. Nobody is believing us.”
- Soundbite: Md. Shajahan, local community leader, Matarbari, Cox’s Bazar
“We are 1000 families here. We live our life by nets making and fishing. But after starting of this Coal Power Plant Project fishes are reduced in this part of the sea. Now we are living by selling our fish catching boats and nets. We are living a very hard life.”
Soundbite: Mr. Amir Hamza, President, Kohilia Nadi Bachai Andolon (Kohelia River Saving Movement)
“Mainly people from the three types of professions living their life through working there (Kohelia river) – one type is carrying cultivated salts by the boat; one type is catching fish by net and another type is engaged for the distribution and marketing of the dry and fresh fish in the different markets of Chittagong. Matarbari Coal Power plant is the project of development mega plan. As part of making of this project, a dock is under construction. If this dock could be made from northern side of Rajghat in Matarbari, this river might not be required to be filled up. This streamy river is historical and among the oldest. Now the those people have no work who were living their life based on this river.”