In this blog, I discuss the impending risks facing the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world, which is located in Bangladesh. I was lucky to be able to visit and spend three days in the Sundarbans during my internship!
The last 6 months in Dhaka have been quite eye-opening for me from being deprived of fresh, clean air, blue skies, clean water bodies and greenery. I realized how much I had taken a clean environment and flora for granted back home in Canada. Now don’t get me wrong, Bangladesh is a beautifully green nation, but the city of Dhaka lacks the nature that it desperately needs. Stepping outof Dhaka and exploring other parts of Bangladesh has really helped me appreciate the nature and breathtaking environments it has to offer. Driving past beautifully-groomed paddy fields in Moulvibazar, running through tea gardens in Sylhet and watching the sun set over the beautiful beaches in Cox’s Bazar were some of the best moments for me in this country.
Best of all was taking a break from Dhaka and adventuring through the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world. This will probably be one of my greatest memories of Bangladesh. A 3-day excursion to the Sundarbans, a 3-day cleanse from the heavily polluted and populated Dhaka was a breath of fresh air (quite literally). The Sundarbans are a vital part of Bangladesh and offered an enriching and refreshing experience for someone like me who desperately needed to be immersed in nature and a detox from daily life. It was an experience like no other that might not be possible anymore in a few years.
Unfortunately, there is an impending risk of serious environmental harm by a coal-fired power plant, potentially Bangladesh’s largest power plant, that is likely being built only 14 kilometres north of the Sundarbans. Financial benefits are being privileged over environmental sustainability and from the looks of it, the chances of the coal power plant being built in very close proximity to the beautiful forest are high. Along with the flora itself, the already endangered Bengal tigers and the other 100s of animal species in the Sundarbans will also be further endangered.
It breaks my heart to think that a few years from now, the beautiful Sundarbans might not even be in existence. The key parties that will be profiting off of the power plant are overlooking the immense ecological damage that will take place and destroy the Sundarbans and surrounding areas. The environment is being neglected for the capital gains from this development. Bangladesh is already a very vulnerable country to climate change and its damaging symptoms, yet this coal plant is very likely being built, only contributing to climate change and environmental degradation.
From the looks of it, the coal-fired power plant will be built but activists are still protesting. There are groups protesting this development in the Khulna area near the Sundarbans and also in Dhaka. People are not happy and are demanding that this power plant be reconsidered. Although I am feeling quite pessimistic and hopeless, there is still a small chance that somehow this power plant could be reconsidered. I am anxious to see what decisions are made in the upcoming months and in which direction the decision-makers go with this issue. I hope that the Sundarbans are preserved and protected, as they are some of Bangladesh’s greatest beauty. It’d be a shame to lose such beautiful wildlife for mere financial gain.