Biodiversity Assessment for Rupsha 800 MW Combined-Cycle Power Plant Project

Dorsal fin of a Ganges river dolphin as it swims among patches of riverine grass

Project title: Biodiversity Assessment for Rupsha 800 MW Combined-Cycle Power Plant Project

Location: Khulna, Bangladesh

Duration: June 2017- February 2018

Project Background: The construction by North-West Power Generation Company Limited (NWPGCL), financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), of an 800 MW combined-cycles power plant is proposed for Khalishpur Sub-district of the Khulna District in Bangladesh, along the Bhairab River. The preliminary findings of an environmental impact assessment indicated the presence of Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) in the Bhairab, immediately in the vicinity of the proposed project site.

The Ganges river dolphin is a freshwater dolphin which occurs in all connected rivers and tributaries of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna system and the Karnaphuli-Sangu river system. In 2012, IUCN classified this species as Endangered globally. In 2015, IUCN declared it Vulnerable in Bangladesh. It is estimated that there are 225 individuals in the Sundarbans region and 125 in the Karnaphuli-Sangu Rivers. No study has so far been done on this species in the Bhairab River in Khalishpur.

The dolphin population in the project area has the potential to be impacted by the construction of the proposed power plant. The impacts need to be adequately assessed and mitigated in accordance with the biodiversity requirements of the ADB. These include specific requirements for projects located within a critical habitat and these ensuring no net loss of biodiversity. IUCN has undertaken a biodiversity assessment in the Bhairab-Atai-Rupsha river system with the following objectives and outputs:

Objectives of the project: 

  • Evaluate the presence and persistence of Ganges river dolphins upstream (Bhairab and Atai Rivers) and downstream (Rupsha River) of the proposed power plant site;
  • Determine the ecological requirements, composition and status of Ganges river dolphin prey species;
  • Identify ways the Ganges river dolphins use the river system in relation to seasons, hydrology and human activities in the river; and
  • Assess the potential impacts the construction and operation of the proposed power plant will have on the Ganges river dolphin

Donor: North-West Power Generation Company Limited (NWPGCL)

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