Home Bangladesh Average 345 ships plying in 8 Sundarbans rivers daily
Bangladesh - March 2, 2024

Average 345 ships plying in 8 Sundarbans rivers daily

Seriously effects on wildlife

Mohiuddin Farazi : Thousands of domestic and foreign ships are moving through eight rivers with animals in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. An average of 345 are running daily. As a result, there is a negative impact on the rivers, soil, vegetation and wildlife of the Sundarbans. Although some work has been done in isolation to determine how severe this effect is, there has not yet been a complete study. Effective measures have not been taken to remedy the damage. The biodiversity of the entire forest is under threat.
According to the sources of the forest department, shipping through the 131-km-long animal river in the Sundarbans from Bay of Bengal to Mongla port started in 1954. Domestic and foreign ships have been plying this route for 70 years. Apart from this, since 1972, ships from different parts of the country have been going to and from India through the Kalinchi, Raimangal, Kachikata, Arpangasiya, Bajbaja, AruaShibsa, Shibsa and Pasur rivers in the Sundarbans via Mongla. Other seven rivers were navigable for 52 years.
Divisional Forest Officer of Sundarban West Forest Department Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain said that 225 domestic and foreign ships pass through Pasur river every day. In the other seven rivers, the average number is 120 per day. The ships of these two routes carry various products including raw materials for making cement, clinker, fly ash, coal, furnace oil, stone, LP gas, foodstuff.
Farooq Ahmed, director of Sundarban Academy, said that the oil and other waste discharged from the ships caused pollution in the water and soil of the forest. Due to the waves of the ships, the bank breaks and the silt falls and the navigability of the river decreases. The noise of the ships and the lights at night scare the wildlife. Wild animals and birds can no longer be seen on riverbanks in forests.
According to the sources of Forest Department, BIWTA and Mongla Port Authority, at least 26 ships carrying various products including coal, fertiliser, furnace oil, clinker, fly ash have sunk in the forest river in the last 9 years. Furnace oil, coal, raw materials for making cement, clinker and slag, stones, fertilizers etc. chemical substances in the ship have spread in the river water and the soil of the surrounding area. But there is no action taken by the concerned authorities to prevent these repeated accidents, to prevent pollution or to raise the sunken ships quickly. If a ship sinks, it takes two-three weeks to a month to bring a salvage ship of BIWTA from Narayanganj to rescue it.
Khulna University Environmental Science Discipline Chief Professor Dr. Abdullah Harun Chowdhury said, due to repeated shipwrecks, the products in the ships are spreading and polluting the river water. The entire biodiversity including different species of fish, aquatic animals is being affected. Some aquatic animals die immediately and their reproductive capacity declines. There is a negative impact on the aquatic food chain. He said that the polluted water of the river also spreads on the forest floor during the tide. As a result, there is also a risk of reduced seedling growth.
Khulna Divisional Coordinator of Bangladesh Environmental Movement (Bapa) Babul Howladar said that neither the Forest Department nor the Mongla Port Authority has any effective initiative to mitigate the harmful effects of shipping on the Sundarbans. The Port Authority has no salvage vessels.
In this regard, the departmental forest officer Abu Nasser Mohsin Hossain said, due to the economic importance of Mongla Port, the movement of ships through the Sundarbans cannot be stopped. Underwater noise caused by ship traffic affects aquatic animals including dolphins and crocodiles. Forest land is being eroded by ships’ waves. Plants are falling into the water. The canals are widening. He said that a 10-year integrated resource management plan is being prepared from 2025 under the Sundarbans protection project. A part of this will be done to assess and mitigate the damage to the Sundarbans due to shipping.
Mongla Port Authority Chairman Rear Admiral Mir Ershad Ali said that they have already taken up a project called waste management. Under the project, oil spill recovery vessels and solid waste collection vessels are being collected in the river. Apart from this a plant will be constructed, the collected waste will be dumped there.

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