South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) welcomes the report of the fact finding mission (http://whc.unesco.org/en/documents/148097) jointly conducted by UNESCO and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to assess the current state of conservation of the Sundarbans, from 22 to 28 March 2016. The mission strongly recommends the cancellation and relocation of the Rampal coal-fired power plant which is located 65 km north of the Sundarbans world heritage site, the world’s surviving largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh.

The Mission has recommended to the government of Bangladesh to submit a report by 1st December 2016 clearly outlining the measures it is taking to implement the recommendations by UNESCO and IUCN. The Mission has also concluded that ‘if the most threatening developments proceed, the World Heritage Committee should consider immediate listing of the Sundarbans in the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 41st session in 2017.’ The mangrove forest is the home to the 450 famous Bengal Tigers and a hotspot for dolphins, turtles including 260 species of birds.

SAHR was the first South Asian organisation to conducted a fact finding mission to Rampal in April 2015 to investigate the impact of the construction of the coal power plant on the people and the environment (The mission report can be accessed at http://www.southasianrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Report-of-the-FFM-Rampa-Bangladesh.pdf).

SAHR has observed with great apprehension the certain reactions on the part of the government of Bangladesh towards the joint report of UNESCO and IUCN on the Sundarbans, by way of alarming statements by relevant authorities. Civil society activists leading the resistance have received threats against life. Further, SAHR urges the government to take serious consideration of the findings and recommendations given by this report, heed the voice of the people of Bangladesh and to immediately suspend construction of the power plant and restore the existence of the Sundarbans and its surrounding habitat.

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights

Hina Jilani
Chairperson

Dr. Nimalka Fernando
Co-Chairperson