Sunderbans in distress: Spilled oil clean up bid remains distant cry

Sunderbans in distress: Spilled oil clean up bid remains distant cry

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The authorities’ plan to clean up the spilled oil of ‘OT Southern Star 7’ by local people using foam and other oil-sucking materials got poor response as the furnace oil collection has become difficult due to its continuous spread to the river and its surrounding water bodies in the Sundarbans.
The local administration on Thursday announced through loudspeakers to engage local people living the forest for collecting the floating oil from the river water but the locals are reluctant about it as the oil collection has become difficult using the traditional method.Rustam Khan, a resident of Mongla upazila, said although the spilled oil is spreading to different canals and water bodies in the Sundarbans, some people collected the floating furnace oil in some areas.
Santu Hawlader, a local fisherman, said he and four other people have collected 400 liters of floating oil from Mrigamari, Badamtola and Bottola areas adjacent to the Shela River.
While talking to reporters, Mongla Port Chairman Habibur Rahman Bhuiyan said a massive turnout of local people is needed to make the oil clean-up drive a success and the media can play an important role in this regard.
He said ‘Kandari-10’, taken from Chittagong, is yet to be used for removing the oil with chemical as clearance from the Environment Ministry is needed for staring the work.
“We’ve been thinking about using trawlers in cleaning up the furnace oil. Raw jute, sacks and sponge will be attached with the trawler to remove the spilled oil from the water,” he added.
He said they do not want to use chemical and heavy vessels in cleaning up the spilled oil before confirming it that it will not have any bad impact on the forest and its biodiversity.
Earlier on Thursday, the authorities decided not to use any chemical over the next two to three days in removing the oil as they will engage locals in the job during the period.
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 5am on Tuesday, causing a serious threat to the existence of the mangrove forest and its natural resources due to the oil spill.
Seven crewmembers of the oil tanker managed to swim ashore while its master, M Mokhlesur Rahman, still remained missing. – UNB

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