As it stands, the world around it burns
For four years now, a ship has remained anchored at Chattogram's Parki beach.
The 192-metre ship, Crystal Gold, ran aground at the popular beach in Anwara upazila in 2017, when cyclone Mora hit the region. Since then, it hasn't moved an inch, and has now become a threat to the area's ecosystem, said environmentalists.
Legal complications have stalled moving the vessel to a ship breaking yard in Sitakunda, according to the Department of Environment (DoE).
Dr Md Atiqur Rahman, associate professor of geography and environmental studies department at Chittagong University, said, "The ship has been stuck on the beach for such a long time that silt has started to accumulate there.
This could lead to erosion later on. It is also leaking contaminants, which is affecting the area's ecosystems."
In addition, the beach's "char" area is being destroyed by silt, he added.
"If the ship is broken up at the beach area, it could lead to a serious environmental hazard," he said. "The only solution is to move it out as soon as possible."
The area's tourism is also being affected by the ship, according to Shekh Jobaer Ahmed, Anwara upazila nirbahi officer and president of Parki beach management committee.
"As the silt spread to the nearby Jhau (tamarisk) forest, Jhau trees are being damaged, which is driving away tourists from the area," Jobaer said.
The ship used to belong to Crystal Group. But facing legal complications over dubious bank loans and payment of crew members, the company sold it off to Four Star Enterprise. Sources said Crystal Group even secured multiple loans against the ship.
The Daily Star tried to contact Crystal Group owner Morshed Murad Ibrahim, former president of the Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but failed to reach him for comments.
Four Star Enterprise bought the ship at an auction near the end of 2018, said Md Amjad Hossain, its director.
Unable to move the vessel, it took initiatives in December that year to dismantle the bulk carrier on the beach, but the DoE intervened and slapped it with a Tk 2 crore fine, saying it had not taken the mandatory clearances required, he said.
"In early 2019, we imposed a compensation of Tk 2 crore on Four Star Enterprise for breaking the ship on the beach without permission," confirmed Mofidul Alam, director of DoE (Chattogram region).
"At that time, biodiversity and sea life of the Parki beach area got ravaged by the ship breaking," said Mofidul. "We only allowed Four Star to break the ship if they followed 32 conditions, but those weren't followed."
Asked, Md Amjad Hossain said they have appealed to the High Court after DoE ordered for the compensation.
But the court has rejected their application, said the DoE director. About the vessel, he said they are trying to come up with a solution in this regard.
Contacted, Anwara upazila vice-chairman Mrinal Kanti Dhar said, "Thousands of tourists visit Parki beach every year. Just 17 km away from the port city, tourists come here to see the Bay of Bengal and Karnaphuli river at the same time."
"However, this ship is damaging the environment of the area. The authorities should move it from the beach immediately," he added.