UNESCO urges halt to plan for Bangladesh coal plant in delta

The U.N. agency devoted to preserving world heritage has joined environmental groups urging Bangladesh to halt plans for a massive coal-fired power plant near ecologically sensitive mangrove forests on the country's coast.

UNESCO and the IUCN say in a report released this week that the project poses a "serious threat" to a region that protects the nation from flooding and holds one of the world's last populations of wild tigers.

Bangladesh countered on Thursday that the concerns were misplaced, and that construction would continue. It says the 1.3-gigawatt power station is crucial to expanding electricity capacity in a country where only six out of 10 people have access to power.

The country's junior power minister, Nasrul Hamid, said UNESCO's report ignored government assurances that the plant would be safe.