India & Bangladesh build a coal-fired power plant


India and Bangladesh launched a coal-fired power station close to one of the biggest mangrove forests in the world, while environmental groups in both countries claim the facility poses a threat to the livelihoods of millions of people. Starting a few weeks before the UN COP28 climate meeting in Dubai, the 1320 megawatt Maitree Super Thermal Power Project is expected to burn 4.75 million tonnes of coal yearly.

The facility, which is located near the Sundarbans, one of the largest mangrove ecosystems in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was constructed in Bangladesh. Environmentalists claim that in addition to possibly violating the UN's Ramsar Convention to protect wetlands, the power plant puts the lives of around two million people in the Sundarbans at risk. Last year, the $2 billion power plant, which was funded by an Indian loan of $1.6 billion, went online in its entirety.

Additionally, the leaders of the two nations opened ports and cross-border railroads. In a virtual ceremony with India's Narendra Modi, Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, "These projects are a shining example of win-win cooperation between our countries". Although Bangladesh will supply the dirty fuel for the new plant, Dhaka now purchases a minimum of one million tonnes of Indian coal a year.

India's foreign ministry released a statement stating that the power project will "enhance energy security in Bangladesh". At the September G20 meeting in New Delhi, world leaders failed to agree on a phase-out of fossil fuels, but they did support a goal of tripling the world's capacity for renewable energy and acknowledged that reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent from 2019 levels by 2030 will be necessary to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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