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15 January, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Print

No step yet to salvage coal-laden ship

Accidents threaten ecology of the Sundarbans
Staff Reporter

The authorities are yet to take any action even though a coal-laden ship, MV Aichgati, sank on Friday morning. MV Aichgati, a lighterage, carrying around 1,100 tonnes of coal to Noapara in Jessore, sank at Fairway Buoy area in the Bay of Bengal near Hiron Point in the Chandpai range on Friday around 8am.
Although over 48 hours have passed, the authorities are yet to action to salvage the ship and have covered their responsibility by merely directing the owner of the ship to take salvage measures, leaving the ecological balance of the Sundarbans and the river itself at stake. Mongla Port Authority’s harbour master commander Mohammad Waliullah said they had already directed Noapara Traders of Jessore to take necessary steps to salvage the vessel immediately. “We’ll form a committee on Sunday to probe the incident. The committee will find out whether there were any faults of the sunken coal-laden vessel,” Commodore Zakiur Rahman Bhuiyan, director-general of the department of shipping (DoS), told The Independent yesterday. A case will be filed against the sunken MV Aichgati after the committee submits its report, he said in reply to a query.
“It’s an utter failure of the shipping ministry. Such accidents are occurring due to lack of accountability and transparency of the department concerned,” Abdus Sobhan, former additional director-general of the department of environment (DoE), told this correspondent.
If the sunken vessel is not salvaged, it would hamper the channel’s navigability and cause deposit silts in the areas, Sobhan said in reply to a query. Green activists have urged the government to stop transportation of coal, oil and fly ash inside the Sundarbans area. The government must cancel the Rampal coal-based power project, they added. Experts have also said that there have been many accidents in the Sundarbans area due to lack of accountability and transparency on part of the departments concerned. They also warned that the Sundarbans and its ecology, rivers and channels, will face dire threats if such accidents occur frequently. The government has planned to construct a coal-based power plant at Rampal, he said, adding that the Sundarbans area is very sensitive and the government has to deal with the issue seriously.
“It’s a mystery why the authorities concerned haven’t yet made any probe report public. There must be some transparency and accountability,” the green activists said.
The convener and member secretary of the National Committee for the Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port, Sheikh Muhammad Shahidullah, and activist Prof. Anu Muhammad yesterday said the government must immediately stop all sorts of commercial activities in the Sundarbans areas.
In a press release, they also demanded that the Rampal coal-based power plant be cancelled immediately.
MV Aichgati, loaded with coal from mother vessel, sank while crossing the estuary because cracks reportedly developed on its bottom.
Noapara Traders imported 48,000 tonnes of coal from South Africa by MV Lady Marry, an Indonesian ship. The mother vessel anchored with coal near Buoy 12 at the outer anchorage of Mongla port. MV Aichgati started for Noapara around 8am loaded with 1,010 tonnes of coal and it sank around 8am because cracks developed on its bottom when it reached near Fairway Buoy No. 7.
Three vessels sank in the Sundarbans area in recent months, raising serious concerns over the safety of the world heritage site and mangrove forest and its wildlife. On December 9, 2014, an oil tanker Southern Star 7 sank and oil spread to the far corners of the forest with current of the Shela river. A vessel carrying fertilisers sank in Pasur on October 28, 2015 and another vessel with coal sank in Shela on March 19, 2016.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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