The Directorate of Environment has recommended that its Chattogram office issue the environmental go-ahead for breaking a ship that ran aground at Parki beach in Anwara upazila two years ago.
The recommendation came at a DoE meeting in April.
The beach, where the dead ship MV Crystal Gold washed ashore during Cyclone Mora in May 2017, is frequented by hundreds of tourist every day and experts fear they may be exposed to pollution if the ship is dismantled.
Al Amin, professor of the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Science at Chittagong University, said, “There is a locality very close to the beach. if the ship is broken without 100 percent safety measures, there will be heavy damage to public health as well as to the environment as the dead ship contain various types of toxic.”
He told The Daily Star that the government could have preserved the ship as a tourist attraction instead.
However, Nazmul Ahsan, director (clearance) of DoE, said the fears of environmental hazard were unwarranted.
Talking to The Daily Star, he said they recommended issuing the clearance attaching 31 conditions so that the environment was not harmed.
“We will be monitoring the whole process to make sure the breaking of the ship is environmentally-friendly,” he said.
The recommendation made in DoE’s 442nd meeting on April 10 stipulated 31 conditions making it mandatory for the breakers to ensure no residue spread outside the site.
The first condition for the clearance was to ensure that the breaking activities wouldn’t be allowed to pollute the air, soil and water, or create any sound pollution.
It also stipulated that the operation should be led by an expert marine engineer, adding that an oil boom should be set up around the breaking site so no sludge or asbestos could spill over to nearby areas.
Experts, however, believe such conditions may not be enough.
Prof Dr Sikandar Khan, president of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Chattogram chapter, told The Daily Star that Parki beach was a tourist spot and the approval to dismantle the ship there would result in massive environmental disaster there. The sea would be affected, he said.
The ship must be taken to the areas designated for ship-breaking and the DoE must rethink and cancel the recommendation, he added.
The 168-metre bulk carrier MV Crystal Gold was originally owned by the Crystal Group, but was purchased by Four Star Corporation in October last year.
Unable to move the vessel, the company took initiatives in December to dismantle it on the beach. However, the DoE slapped it with a Tk 2 crore fine saying it had not taken the mandatory clearance.
Mohammad Moazzam Hossain, director of Chattogram DoE told The Daily Star that The Environmental Management Plan submitted by Four Star Group was approved at a headquarters meeting.
“Four Star Group will be issued a clearance from the Chattogram DoE based on the compliance of the conditions stipulated from headquarters,” he said.
He also said an inspector from the DoE would monitor the work round-the-clock to ensure that the conditions are fulfilled.