BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Monday said his party will mobilize public opinion against the installation of a coal-fired power plant at Rampal near the Sundarbans.

“I’ve been to Khulna recently where I think public opinion needs to be mobilized to encourage people in the region to take to the streets,” he said.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion, the BNP leader added, “It’s the duty of all to be out there in the field to organize public opinion. Before waging a movement, we must create public opinion and sensitize those who will be affected by it. It’s now very crucial.”

The Association of Engineers, Bangladesh (AEB) organised the discussion titled ‘Rampal Power Plant: Triple Jeopardy—Technical, Economic & Environmental’ at the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh.

AEB acting president ANH Akhter Hossain presented the keynote paper at the program.

Mentioning that people usually take to the streets to put up resistance when they’re convinced that their interest will be harmed, Mirza Alamgir emphasized distribution of leaflets among the people to raise their awareness about the adverse effects of the Rampal power plant on the country’s economy and environment and particularly the Sundarbans.

About the BNP’s position on Rampal power plant he said, “We’re opposing the Rampal power plant as it’ll destroy our Sundarbans and put our national existence at stake. We never compromise with the interests of the people and our country, and we won’t allow anyone to do so either.”

Stating that his party has been working in favor of the people he added, “We might have some failures, but we don’t have any lack of sincerity to protect the nation’s interests. We’ll face the country’s crisis together with the people, and the BNP will resist any anti-people project.”

Dhaka University professor Asif Nazrul said the government still could not give any satisfactory answer why a power plant is being implemented at Rampal within 14 km of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh while there is a restriction on implementing such a project within 25 km of the forest in India.

He wondered why India had cancelled four such projects last June if there is no bad effect of coal-fired power plants.

Mentioning that there are efforts to brand as anti-Indians those who speak against the Rampal power plant, he said, “If Sultana Kamal, Anu Muhammad, Khushi Kabir, MM Akash are anti-Indians, it should be considered every citizen, except a few hundred people of this government of Bangladesh are anti-Indian.”

Asif Nazrul said the Rampal power plant will not only affect Bangladesh’s environment and economy, but also the country’s existence as the Sundarbans protects the nation from disasters like a natural shield.

Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury urged the Prime Minister either to relocate the Rampal power plant to Chittagong region or go for alternative sources of power generation.

He suggested that the government can invest in a hydroelectric project in Bhutan and get nearly 50,000 mw power from there.