Its Member Secretary Professor Anu Muhammad said at the Shaheed Minar gathering that processions and rallies will be held across Bangladesh on Dec 26 to demand immediate cessation of all activities relating to Rampal power plant as it is ‘harmful’ for the Sundarbans.”A Protest Day will be observed worldwide on Jan 7,” he added. He, however, did not elaborate whether rallies and processions would be organised abroad by respective chapters of his organisation.The other anti-Rampal programmes include rallies in divisional and district headquarters on Jan 14.The committee will also present a low-cost, sustainable and environment-friendly ‘mega-plan’ as an alternative to the Rampal project on that day.If the demand is not met within that day, the committee will enforce a half-day general strike in Dhaka City on Jan 26 and announce more protests, Anu Muhammad said.The Jahangirnagar University economics professor called the protesters for getting inspiration from Liberation War martyrs ahead of the Martyred Intellectuals Day and Victory Day.”Make songs, plays, documentaries to save the Sundarbans. Take protest programmes like rally, procession, and human-chain,” he urged.A procession was brought out from the Shaheed Minar after the rally which paraded the city streets.The oil-gas committee had earlier organised a ‘Padjatra’, or march towards the Sundarbans, claiming that the project initiated jointly by India and Bangladesh to set up the coal-fired plant would destroy the mangrove forest.The government and the project authorities have been denying the claim, saying the environmental damage will to be kept at the minimum level.Anu Muhammad said at the rally that his committee has been protesting against the plant for five years.”Had the government cared about logic, scientific data, people’s opinions and country’s future, then it would have stopped the project activities which are destructive for the Sundarbans,” he said.The economics professor said several researches have showed the ‘harmful’ sides of the project.”No specialist, except those taking benefits from the Rampal project, is speaking in favour of the project. The government is knowingly feeding the people poison,” he said.He claimed the extinction of the Sundarbans will directly affect 3.5 million people and leave 50 million others unprotected from natural calamities.He alleged the project aims to award India businesses.Dhaka University English department Professor Emeritus Serjaul Islam Choudhury said there was ‘no doubt’ that the extinction of the Sundarbans will ‘destroy entire Bangladesh’.”Only 1 percent of the population who have sent their children abroad are doing this (building the plant),” he said.Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) President Mujahidul Islam Selim demanded a public debate on the project.”If we the communists get the power, the plant will be relocated from Rampal,” he said.Columnist Syed Abul Maksud called for a referendum to know the people’s opinion on the issue.BD Rahmatullah, a former director general of state-run Power Cell, said it would be possible to generate double the capacity of Rampal plant with renewable energy.Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (BaSaD) General Secretary Khalequzzman and Dhaka University economics Professor MM Akash, among others, spoke at the rally.
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