Shajahan Khan downplays threat to Sundarbans
Amid grave concern from different quarters over the environmental impact of the disastrous accident, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan today said the oil spill in the Shela River and its surrounding areas will cause little harm to the Sundarbans.
“We’ve talked to foreign experts who said the oil spilled from the crashed tanker won’t harm the world’s largest mangrove forest that much,” he said while talking to reporters after visiting Chandpai Range of the mangrove forest.
The minister further said, “It won’t affect dolphins and other animals as the oil has not spread that much. The oil couldn’t enter the forest as fishing nets were used on the mouths of canals to prevent its spread. Besides, local people are collecting the spilled oil.”
Replying to a question, Shajahan Khan said the government will decide whether it will shut the naval route of Chandpai range.
The OT Southern Star 7’, carrying some 3.57 lakh litres of furnace oil, sank in the river at Mrigmari under East Zone of the Sundarbans after being hit by a cargo vessel, ‘Total Cargo, at 5:00am on Tuesday, causing a serious threat to the existence of the Sundarbans and its natural resources due to the oil spill.
Voicing concern over the oil tanker crash, UNDP Bangladesh Country Director Pauline Tamesis said this accident once again highlights the need for a complete ban on the movement of all commercial vessels through the Sundarbans.
“Global experience shows that this kind of incident has long term environmental consequences and it requires coordinated multisectoral efforts to restore the affected areas,” she said in a statement on Thursday.