This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Priyanjana Pramanik. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Maybe These Picture Will Make Planners Hesitant About The Power Plant That Will Endanger Sundarbans #PhotoNama

More from Priyanjana Pramanik

By Priyanjana Pramanik:

Perhaps I am biased when I say that Sundarbans is the most beautiful place in the world. It is to me. Scientifically speaking, it is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. It houses a national park, a tiger reserve, and a biosphere reserve, all located in the Sundarbans delta in West Bengal. In Bangladesh, the Sundarbans are protected forests. And of course, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


There is nothing whatsoever civilized about the Sundarbans. I’ve heard bored tourists complain that it’s all water, water and more water, as far as the eye can see. But that river is a very convenient hiding place. Saltwater crocodiles, muggers and water monitors sun themselves on the islands, sliding lazily into the water the second they hear a boat nearby. Tigers swim from island to island, by day or by night. The waters and islands are snake infested; if you’re lucky (or unlucky) you could encounter a king cobra or a common krait. If you are incredibly lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of a Gangetic river dolphin, or an otter. And yes, the locals swear they’ve even seen a couple of sharks.

1019(2) (1)

Around 4 million people live in the Sundarbans. However, most of it is free of permanent habitation; the locals live their lives at the mercy of the forest. Around a hundred are killed every year in tiger attacks; those who venture into the core areas of the forest rarely return. This is probably one of the last places in India where the wilderness actually prevails, because there is simply no way to cultivate it, tame it or civilize it. Every moment you spend in the forest is a risk, and that is what makes it so beautiful.


Despite the fact that several species have been driven to extinction by excessive poaching, the Sundarbans is famed for its biodiversity. The forest has both productive and protective functions, and the people who live there understand this. The people of the Sundarbans have their own gods, the gods of the forest, like Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai. And so the law of the jungle has prevailed in the Sundarbans, and life has remained both difficult and simple.


Until now, that is. Because even at this very moment, plans are being made for a coal-based power plant in Rampal, Bagerhat (in Bangladesh), and the Sundarbans may be completely wiped out if they are approved. The project is located close to the forests, and will affect both the water resources and the cultivable land. Experts have said that building the plant will not solve Bangladesh’s energy problems. In fact, they fear that it will aggravate existing issues for Bangladesh. And environmentalists strongly feel that the energy crisis can be solved by utilizing the available renewable resources, thus sparing the Sundarbans.


The plant is to be built and operated by the Indian company NTPC, and India and Bangladesh signed the joint venture agreement on April 20. By any interpretation, this agreement is a violation of international norms. And by signing it, all the arrangements have been made to utterly destroy the Sundarbans. Coal-based plants create a variety of ills. They emit huge amounts of carbon dioxide, which everyone knows is a greenhouse gas. They use up huge amounts of water every days, discharging superheated water back into the rivers and destroying animal species.


The sludge released by coal plants contains arsenic, mercury, cadmium and chromium. These elements contaminate ground water, and damage the vital organs and nervous system of any living being they come in contact with. That means that it’s not just the biodiversity of the Sundarbans which is at risk; it is also the lives of at least four million people. The governments of both countries claim that advanced technology will be used to avert pollution; the experts disagree. Environment management plans are in place, but even if they are implemented to the fullest, irreversible damage to the world’s largest mangrove forest, and the people and animals living in it, is inevitable.


I do not want to see the Sundarbans turn into a wasteland. The creation of the power plant will not solve any problems; it will create more. We are told practically from the moment we are born that renewable sources of energy can be used to meet at least a part of our energy needs, that exhaustible resources cannot ever be recovered. Why, then, a coal-based power plant? And why at Rampal, where so much is at risk? The debate rages on, but now is the time to speak out. Otherwise, it will be too late, and the Sundarbans won’t be there to debate about.

Photo Credits: Prithvijit Pramanik
All photographs are the copyright of Prithvijit Pramanik

You must be to comment.
  1. Akash

    All the corporate bodies of India as well as South Asia are ignoring instantaneously about the grave concerns of the experts. Question is that if the project can be feasible for the environment why Indian court didn’t allow in Madhya province. This is not the matter of Bangladesh only, the flying acidic ash will inundate all over the Sundarban and gradually Sundari trees will be died out. Moreover, if Sundarban doesn’t exist the cyclones will destroy the norther part of Bangladesh and also west Bengal, Assam and Tripura as well.

More from Priyanjana Pramanik

Similar Posts

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By shakeel ahmad

By Nitika Mehta

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below