Rampal: Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and recognition of renewable energy in South Asia

When an area or an identity is under threat, UNESCO then declares that threatened area or identity as an heritage site. The solo aim of this declaration is to protect that diversity, serene beauty. Sundarbans was declared as the World Heritage site back in 1987. The shocking news is, UNESCO has withdrawn their objection on the issue of Rampal coal fire-power plant even knowing all the negative aspects of the project [“The Independent” (7 July, 2017)]. This reminds me that whoever you are, your brain is simply a combination and culmination of 3 basic elements; money, money and money. Gosh! Now you can ask me “why have you repeated the same elements twice? Where are the other two elements?” Dear, never forget that we are living in a market place, no more in an earthly world. As long as market is concerned, only money is real. Other two very important elements ‘regulation and morality’ are either biased or imposed and others are eye washed.

Proposed Rampal Power Station. Photo Courtesy: Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt.) Limited (BIFPCL)
Proposed Rampal Power Station. Photo Courtesy: Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt.) Limited (BIFPCL)

In economic jargon, there is a very strong expression known as willingness to charge. This means how much the seller is willing to charge the buyer. This process can either be biased or imposed and eventually can be eye-washed. For this instance, take the developer business as an empirical example in anywhere of the world. The developer company is buying land for their business purpose. Unless they get your land or they make you sell your land, the developer company is unable to make their business territory a perfect square by its length and width. The developer company will force you or will go any extent to make you sell your land. They would do that because they have money, and money is power. If you are the legal entity of that land, the price of that land depends on your willingness to charge with the compensation as they forced you to do this sort of act (force to sell your property). It would be foolish to sell out your land at a very minimum price which would not eventually cover the compensation for the hassle you and your family have to go through.

In order for a smooth economic growth, we would require energy. For economic growth, we would have to go for industrialization. Industrialization requires a lot of energy and the question arises, shall we proceed by destroying our natural capital or align with the nature?

Monpura, an island under Bhola district is a real time example within Bangladesh on how to tackle with energy crisis. Monpura is a model for renewable energy, with an initial success of a 177 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar mini-grid, offering 24 hour power supply to all of its 1,25,000 residents.

The thing is, we have to switch to alternate energy which is more sustainable in long run and obviously economically feasible and has less impact on the environment. If we want to sustain in long run, we need renewable energy. The International Solar Alliance is an alliance of more than 120 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which come either completely or partly between the tropic of Cancer and Capricorn. The primary objective of this alliance is to efficiently exploit the use of solar energy, an initiative taken by India. “The sun is the source of all energy. The world must turn to solar, the power of our future” quoted by Narendera Modi, Prime Minister of India, in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 21. In this South Asian region, India aims to install 275 GW of renewable energy by 2027 [“Hindustan times”(19 April, 2017)]. China is already the world’s leader in wind-generated power and aims to triple solar capacity by 2020. Taiwan is promoting a renewable energy revolution in Asia. Revolution of renewable energy in energy mix is truly an evolution for upcoming decades in energy sector.

“Climate change is real, and this is happening right now” mentioned by the Oscar winning actor Leonardo Dicaprio. The burning of fossil fuel in electricity generation, industrialization and our day to day activities are heating up the earth’s atmosphere. According to a report by Asian Development Bank (ADB),  0. 6 degree Celsius temperature rise is projected over the Asian landmass which will intensify the tropical cyclones and typhoons. Our generation have already started to witness those effects as Cyclone Sidr, Aila, and Mora are clear examples. This will disrupt the human settlement, food production, destruction of natural resources etc.

Donald trump has tweeted that, Climate Change is a “hoax” 115 times [(1 Jun, 2017)] though later, he proposed a wall along the border with Mexico could have solar panels fixed to it [“BBC”(22 June, 2017)]. The whole civilization has stepped into a new reality and people are slowly adapting with the new renewable trends. The truth will shine like the sun is shining in the sky. Island leaders around the world are standing up and demonstrating that the solutions for climate change are readily available. The bad impact of coal in environmental sustainability as a disillusion in Asia is happening in comparatively developed country like China and India. Hopefully Bangladesh will find out it’s right direction of the issue of Rampal coal power plant. Disillusion would happen in politicizing and institutionalizing of climate change regarding the Rampal issue.

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Sanlap Biswas is a MS student in the department of Environmental Science and Management at North South University.

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