Sundarbans to suffer
The joint investigation between Bangladesh and the United Nations (UN) in the aftermath of the tanker oil spill in the Sundarbans has revealed some damning findings. According to the 107- page report submitted to the environment and forestry ministry the fallout from the spill could not be assessed on a long term basis in a number of areas including healthcare risks. That's because of the limited time at the disposal of the team. The group comprising government, UN organisations and academics did however come up with a series of recommendations to both monitor and assess the situation in the mid and long term. Measures suggested include an improvement in preparedness and response times for the sake of tackling future spills.
The enactment of a national oil contingency plan and regulations that will govern which agencies will do what should there be a recurrence of Southern Star-7 situation in the mangrove forest is of utmost importance. This is so because for weeks after the incident occurred we witnessed a war of words between various government bodies as to which ministry or agency should take the lead for salvaging the sunken vessel. There was also much confusion about how to contain the oil that had seeped out of the vessel. Protecting a world heritage site like the Sundarbans must be a national priority. Measures need to be stepped up to find a viable alternative route so that oil-laden vessels do not use the Sundarbans on commercial basis.