CHITTAGONG, Jan 28, 2017 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina once again came down heavily on the quarter campaigning against the Rampal Power Plant, saying that they never visited the power plant site to ascertain its impact on the Sundarbans.
Defending the construction of the power plant, she also said the Rampal Power Plant is being set up in Rampal, not in the Sundarbans.
"The plant is being built around 14 kilometers away from the outer boundary of the Sundarbans and about 70 kilometers away from the world heritage site. So there is no possibility of causing any damage to the Sundarbans," she said.
The prime minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of the 57th National Convention of the Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB) at its Chittagong centre this noon.
IEB President Engineer Kabir Ahmed Bhuiyan and General Secretary Engineer Mohammad Abdus Sabur spoke on the occasion.
Engineer Sadeque Mohammad Chowdhury, chairman of IEB Centre, Chittagong, delivered the welcome address, while Prabir Sen, general secretary of IEB, Chittagong centre, gave vote of thanks.
The premier said when her government is working for the country and the people, the quarter at that time is raising objection about Rampal Power Plant from the capital and carrying out campaign across the world against the plant.
"They are conducting campaign by sitting on the capital...they never visited Rampal in their life," she said.
In this connection, the prime minister said a barge with 1000 MT coal sank near the Sundarbans recently. "Whether the environmentalists did any examination about the impact of capsizing of the barge ... they should have visited the site to verify its impact?" she questioned.
Sheikh Hasina said her government had taken all kinds of measures to protect the environment of the Sundarbans and the surrounding areas as well as to protect the habitat and biodiversity of that region.
Explaining the preventive measures, she said coal will be transported to power plant site from deep sea in covered barges, while covered and low-sound engines will be used in the barges and therefore "there is no possibility of environment pollution".
Referring to the construction of Barapukuria coal-fired power plant in Dinajpur, Sheikh Hasina said her government had started setting up coal-fired power plants in Barapukuria in 2000.
She said there was no negative impact on the densely populated and green area of Barapukuria though two sub-critical plants were constructed there. The land of the area has become more fertile and more rice is being produced there, she said.
The prime minister said there were no roads to go to Rampal when the present government launched the construction work of the Rampal Power Plant. The people used to go there through river routes. But roads and bridges are being built there gradually after commencement of the work of the power plant, she said.
"So the anti-Rampal power plant campaigners should go to Rampal and know how far Sundrarbans is from there ... they would be able to know the distance of the world's largest mangrove forest from Rampal if they start marching towards it," she said.
The prime minister said the quarter carrying out propaganda against the Rampal power plant saw the area from helicopters. "But it's not possible to ascertain the distance between Rampal and the Sundarbans from helicopters ... they could see the distance if they launch the march towards the Sundarbans from Rampal," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said they (the campaigners) have no sorrow and cry for the people and they don't need to see the good and bad of the people. Instead of this, they are only shedding tears for the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sundarbans, she said.
She said the government has taken steps to plant five lakh new trees in the Sundarbans. Of them,1.5 lakh trees have already been planted there, she said, adding that the dredging of Ghashiakhali canal has been completed.
The prime minister urged the engineers to be vocal and create awareness among the people of all strata against militancy and terrorism.
"All will have to remain alert so that our children don't step into the suicidal path ... their life is valuable and their merit is needed for the country. All will have to extend cooperation so they groom up themselves as good human beings," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the militancy and terrorism are not only a problem of Bangladesh, it's a global problem. "It's very unfortunate and painful that meritorious students get engaged in these social vices," she said.
In this connection, the premier said her government has been carrying out campaign against terrorism and militancy by involving the people of all levels including teachers, imams, students and guardians.
Sheikh Hasina also called upon the engineers to work with utmost sincerity, honesty and integrity to complete the ongoing development projects speedily.
"Implementation of these schemes mostly depends on you. So you will have to work with utmost sincerity so that we could finish these projects fast," she said.
Quoting a comment of Bangabandhu, the prime minister said the Father of the Nation presented independence and showed the path for reaching its benefits and giving better life to the people by ensuring their basic rights.
"Bangabandhu also showed the way for establishing Bangladesh as a dignified position on the world stage," she said.
She said 21 years from 1975-1996 have been lost from our life in negligence. "But we don't want to lose a single moment and that's why we made whatever development was possible during the tenure from 1996-2001," she said.
But, she said, the BNP-Jamaat nexus, coming to power, took the country backward. So seven years were lost from the life of the countrymen again as the BNP-Jamaat did not want development of the country and pushed the country towards destruction by making war criminals ministers and MPs.
Sheikh Hasina said development of the country has now been visible to the people due to continuation of the government for last eight years. "We have increased budget five times and taken various projects under Tk one lakh 40 thousand crore development budget."
Urging the engineers to complete these works speedily and beautifully by maintaining quality as two years of the tenure of her government are left. "We could continue development if the people give mandate to us again and almighty Allah wishes," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh is now moving ahead through the highway of development and Digital Bangladesh is now a reality. "Our GDP is now 7.1 percent, and the amount of reserve is 32 billion dollars, while export income exceeded $ 35 billion."
She said the per capita income rose to 1466 dollars, while the poverty rate has been brought down to 22.4 percent. The rate of education is now 71 percent and the average life expectancy is now 71 years, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said 78 percent people of the country are now getting electricity as power generation capacity surpassed 15,000 megawatts.
The prime minister said her government has undertaken a number of "fast track projects".
"We have taken initiatives for construction of the Padma Bridge in own funding, as well as the deep seaport, nuclear power plant, coal-fired power plants, metro rail project, four-lane highways, inter-state rail project and LNG terminal," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the work on launching Bangabandhu Satellite on the orbit and the first tunnel in the Karnaphuli River is underway.
The prime minister said Bangladesh has graduated to lower middle income country. "But as a victorious nation we don't want to confine within the lower middle country, we must achieve our goal of middle income status by 2021 and developed and prosperous country in South Asia," she said, urging the engineers to work with this end in view.
The premier said: "We want everybody to work keeping in mind the welfare of the country so that we take it forward further."
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh doesn't want to move by bowing its head and extending beggars hand. It's unfortunate that Bangladesh had been turned into a beggars' nation after 1975, which was very unfortunate for the country, she said.
Calling upon the engineers to give attention to the development of the rural areas, she said the government's development is not only based on the capital or other big cities.
"We want to ensure civic amenities of the rural people and I expect that you would give attention so that the rural people could live in villages with all facilities," she said.
The premier advised the engineers to use land in a planned way and construct the houses keeping adequate ventilation facilities.
Ministers, PM's advisers, parliament members, the mayor of Chittagong, politicians, foreign diplomats and senior officials were present at the function.
At the function, the premier handed IEB Gold Medals 2016 to Professor Dr Engineer M Habibur Rahman and Major General Engineer Abu Sayeed Mohammad Masud for their outstanding contribution to academic and professional categories respectively. She also handed over certificates among 83 engineers who passed AMEI in civil, mechanical and electrical engineering courses.
The premier also unveiled the plaques of newly-constructed centres in Mymensingh, Bogra, Rangpur and Ashuganj as well as allocation of lands for IEB at Purbachal in Dhaka, Khulna and Faridpur through digital system.
She also laid the foundation stone of Rangadia Centre digitally.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)