“If the Sundarbans ‘World Heritage Site’ lost its status, as a nation and a nation, it will be shameful and insulting for us”-Sultana Kamal.
A press conference about “UNESCO’s latest recommendation for the protection of the Sundarbans, negligence of the government towards the forest and related issues” was held by National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS) at 28 June 2019 Friday in National Press Club, Zahur Hossain Chowdhury Hall (2nd Floor), Topkhana Road, Dhaka
BAPA Vice President and convener of NCSS, Advocate Sultana Kamal presented the keynote speech at the press conference. Members of NCSS Mr. A B. M. Shamsul Huda, Ruhul Hossain Prince and others were present in the event.The Member Secretary of the NCSS and the secretary general of BAPA Dr. Mohd. Abdul Matin conducted the program. Besides, representatives from different environmental organizations, experts, researchers and environmentalists were also present in the program.
Sultana Kamal in her written speech said that the World Heritage Center of UNESCO has prepared a recommendation on the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, which will be presented in the meeting of the upcoming World Heritage Committee. In this regard, due to the unsatisfaction of Bangladesh’s work in protecting the World Heritage Sites, our national pride, wealth and defense against natural disasters- the Sundarbans to be listed in the UNESCO’s endangered World Heritage list. This meeting is going to be held in Baku of Azerbaijan from 30 June to 10 July 2019. The meeting will discuss the recommendations of the World Heritage Center and the final decision will be taken. If the committee take those decision as final, then the Sundarbans will lose the status of its current world heritage status. Then Bangladesh will lose respect. As a country and a nation around the world, it will be a big failure, shame, and humiliation.
She also said that the UNESCO has a method to list the forest in endangered category by enforcing pressure on the government. Considering greater conservation of environment in the Sundarbans and the surrounding area, we believe that the UNESCO Center has properly taking their steps. Since the government is careless about the Sundarbans and the environment, we strongly support UNESCO’s move to protect the Sundarbans forests.
Member Secretary of the NCSS Dr. Mohd. Abdul Matin said destruction in the name of development in the Sundarbans area is under way. We all want development,but we do not want those projects which will destroy the environment and the forests. The movement for protection of the Sundarbans is not only the movement of Bangladesh but it is also the movement of the people India and all over the world. With the movement of Bangladesh to protect the Sundarbans, efforts will be taken to combine the activists and organizations from other countries too. He also said that after the completion of the UNESCO meeting, the National Committee to Protect the Sundarbans will take the efforts for the greater social movement at the national level.
A.B.M. Shamsul Huda said, we want development of the country, want electricity but it not necessarily destroying the Sundarbans. The whole nation will be united against the destruction of the Sundarbans in the name of development. No development will help if the country’s rivers, forests and wetlands are not protected. If you want real development of the country and people then first save and improve the environment of the country. Development is not possible by destroying the environment. Accounts in the Swiss bank filled up by emptying Bangladeshi bank and no one is talking about that. Hence, when we protest against the destruction of the forests, we have been criticized by the government. It is ridiculous and shameful.
Ruhul Hussain Prince said that the Sundarbans is our priceless assets and we must save it. The people of the country voted to see this Sundarbans in the list of world heritage. It cannot be accepted that this honor will go away due to the government’s wrong and irresponsible activities. He said that lying and destruction is going on against the Sundarbans. All the tasks of the country are happening by the name of Prime Minister. So, if the world heritage status goes away, then she will have to the take responsibility to losing it.
It is said at the press conference that the Sundarbans destroying by river erosion and climate change, shrimp farming, wildlife killing, naval water mismanagement, ship sinking, and destruction of the forests. A 1320 MW Rampal coal power plant is being constructed near the Sundarbans, which is heavily controversial. Recent media sources, also tell us about the establishment of another power plant based on the furnace oil, the airport near the forest, the industrialization plan of the EPZ. Around 150 industrial plots were provided around the forest, out of which 28 are categorized as ‘red’ category. Ironically, the LPG plant which was in red category previously, recently become ‘green’ by the government order. Besides, the cement factory, silo warehouses built inside or beside the forest. Even influential political people have bought lands and hang ownership signboards near the forests. Government has set up mobile phone towers within the forests, whereas it has negative environmental impact, especially the reproduction of trees and animals.