Ecology | VOL. 15, ISSUE 90, May-June 2015

Bangladesh’s Sundarban

Calling for a Spill Proof Environment

Four months after the calamitous 2014 Sundarban oil spill, the UNESCO World Heritage Site recently became victim to yet another similar fortuity. A large vessel containing 500 metric tonne (MT) of potash sank into the Sundarban, maculating the entire stretch of the protected eco sensitive area. The ship, MV Jabal-e-Nur, was on its way to Baghabari in Sirajganj from Harbaria in Mongla (Fig 1) when it struck a sandbar. It subsequently submerged as its keel ruptured in the middle. According to local sources, the ship struck the sandbar at around 5 pm on May 3, 2015 and succumbed to the strong tidal waves while two rescue vessels tried to move the cargo during the high tide. As the cargo sank during high tide, the ship’s booty spread across a vast area of the mangrove forest and is speculated to impact the ecological balance, although no official reports have surfaced as of yet. The Sundarban, the world’s largest tidal mangrove forest, is one of the most biodiverse places on the entire planet. About 40 per cent of it lies in India while the rest, with the densest outcrops lies in Bangladesh (unesco.org). Several endangered species like the Ganges River Dolphins, the rare Irrawady dolphins, the Royal Bengal tiger, the endemic river terrapin, the olive ridley turtle, the saltwater crocodile are found here. It also is inhabited...

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