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Sundarbans is in danger – Sultana Kamal, President, NCSS

Sundarbans is in danger – Sultana Kamal, President, NCSS


Sultana Kamal, president of the National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS), thinks Sundarbans is in a dangerous position now.

She made this statement at a virtual press conference titled ‘The recommendations of the recent meeting of UNESCO World Heritage Committee on the Sundarbans’ jointly organized by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and the National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS) on July 26, 2021.

The press conference was held to respond to the decision of the last meeting (44th session) of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on the issue of Sundarbans.

During the press conference, Sultana Kamal said that the government seems to have negotiated with the members of the World Heritage Committee on the Sundarbans issue.

The decision that came out from the 44th session was proof of this assumption. The nation must understand whether politics favors the country and its people or favors a handful of profiteers.

We need to form a strong monitoring team solely focused on the Sundarbans issue on behalf of our own organization and the media. Today, we are responding to the recommendations of the 44th meeting of the World Heritage Committee with incredible frustration and anger.

The decision to declare Sundarbans as “Endangered world heritage” or not in the upcoming 45th session was taken during the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee under the United Nations body for science, education, and heritage organizations in Zhuzhou, China.

Meanwhile, the Bangladesh government’s Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) to determine the impact of the coal-fired Rampal power plant and surrounding industries on the Sundarbans will complete by next August.

A Report on the extent to which Bangladesh complied with the 14 conditions given by UNESCO will also submit by February 1 next year.

At the session, the representatives of the 21 member countries of the committee discussed the draft decision made on the Sundarbans of Bangladesh. Among the member states, 18 countries, including Egypt, China, Russia, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Tajikistan, voted not to decide this year.

Speaking at the press conference, Sharif Jamil, General Secretary of BAPA, said, “In the last 44th meeting of the World Heritage Committee, 199 world heritage sites were analyzed and discussed, including the Sundarbans.

The committee has failed to play an effective role in preserving the heritage of the Sundarbans through its weak decision. “Committee members have made political considerations more important than science and ideology in decision-making.”

Ruthin Hossain Prince, the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) leader, said, “The World Heritage Committee is influenced by politics. The government’s attempt to generate electricity using the tag has also failed. All coal-fired thermal power projects must be shut down now.”

Stephen Doempke, chairman of World Heritage Watch, said, “We were virtually powerless during the World Heritage Committee session. So now, we have to create pressure and raise awareness by the public.”

Tanni Nowshin, an Environmental activist who participated in the World Heritage Committee session on behalf of the National Committee for Saving the Sundarbans (NCSS), said,

“The 44th meeting of the World Heritage Committee was just a matter of anger and suffering for us. We have made a statement to stop the coal projects in the Sundarbans.”

Some members of the committee argued that “Bangladesh is a low-income country and needs to be developed. Therefore, there is no need to put more pressure on the Bangladesh government in this regard.”

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive Officer of BELA, Abdul Aziz, Former Professor, Department of Botany, Dhaka University, Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, Professor, Khulna University, and Prof. Golam Rahman, Former President, Bangladesh Institute of Planners, also spoke at the conference.

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