FIVE days after the devastating accident, we are appalled at the government's lackluster attempt at containing the oil spill in the Sundarbans, despite repeated and urgent appeals from different quarters to speed up the clean-up operation. The government began its tedious manual operation four days after the incident, deploying only 200 workers -- a delayed move that, according to experts, is totally inadequate in containing the oil spill which has now spread across at least 350 square kilometres of the region.
Government bureaucracy, irresponsibility and lack of coordination on the part of different authorities have compounded the danger the Sundarbans and its inhabitants are in. The government is yet to make a decision on whether it would take the international assistance offered by UN and other agencies: another bureaucratic delay that would heavily cost the nation. Decisive action is long overdue.
We are disheartened that instead of taking responsibility for the present and future of the Sundarbans, the government is shirking its duty. The shipping minister has downplayed the catastrophic magnitude of the spill, arguing that it “won't harm the world's largest mangrove forest that much.” His flippant remarks about the oil spread and its impact is a cause for concern as it signals the authorities' refusal to accept responsibility to safeguard the Sundarbans.