Sunderbans, the river delta of two of the longest river system in the whole world, The Ganga and The Brahmaputra, is the pride of both India and Bangladesh. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest delta in the world and is rich in flora and fauna. This Mangrove forest is the house of endangered species such as Royal Bengal tiger, estuarine crocodile, northern river terrapins, Gangetic dolphins etc.
What is often not talked about is that it is the lifeline for West Bengal and Bangladesh. Bay of Bengal is one of the roughest seas. Every year there’s a cyclone which affects the coastal area of India and Bangladesh. The Sunderbans has been reducing the impact of cyclones on West Bengal and Bangladesh. In addition to that this rich mangrove forest acts as lungs for this region.
What is almost always ignored is that we are losing this precious forest. Being so close to the sea it is in imminent danger of climate emergency. The annual sea level increase in this region is 20 mm. Every year some islands are lost to the water. Recent cyclones such as Amphan, Bulbul and Aila has consumed the life of thousands of people. Every year thousands of climate refugees abandon their villages to migrate to nearby cities of Kolkata or Dhaka.
Bangladesh which has huge power deficit came up with an idea to generate more power and create employment for the locals in this region. In cooperation with India they have planned to make largest power plant in this region. The Ramlal coal power plant will be constructed by India just 14 Km away from this Bio reserve hence causing more damage to the already dying forest.
What is even more surprising is that the project is supervised by a company called Fichtmer Group from Germany, Germany which is a global leader in fight against climate change. What is even more ironic is that the firm is based from Baden-Württemberg where the Green Party is in coalition with CDU. The group is not only supervising the construction of Power Plant it is also supervising the construction of the port from where the coal will be transported.
Now my question is, if power deficit is the problem why not invest in renewable sources? Why not invest in installing offshore windmill farms? If generating employment is the goal why not utilize the human resources in building flood prevention or mitigation techniques? Why not force rich corporates to stop investing in such environment hazardous projects?
The debate for, which country is more responsible for climate change or which countries should take responsibility of the past, is endless. The earth belongs to us all. That’s why its safe keeping is our collective responsibility. Sometimes I wonder, in this fight against climate change will we lose to capitalism?
2. Sunderbans mangrove threatened by rising waters
3. Rampal Power Station