BD-UN study report on Sundarbans

Oil spill impact limited: set rule for waterways

03 March 2015


Staff Reporter :
The Government of Bangladesh-UN Joint Sundarbans Oil Spill Response Mission formally released its report on the Sundarbans oil spill at the CIRDAP auditorium on Sunday, stressing the need for rules and guidelines for the movements of water vessels through the Sundarbans area.
The report was formally released at a press conference at CIRDAP International Conference Centre in the city.
According to the report, the short-term environmental impacts of the oil spill seem to be limited, but further monitoring is required for analyzing its long-term impacts on the wildlife and environment of the Sundarbans.
A group of 25 experts carried out the study regarding oil spill on the river Shela in the Sundarbans on December 9 last year.  They conducted their study from December 22 to 27.
The oil tanker OT Southern Star-7 carrying 3,57,668 litres of furnace oil, sank in the river 'Shela' after being hit by a cargo vessel, causing great harm to ecosystem of the greatest mangrove forest in the world.
The mission carried out the study, which was coordinated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supported by the USAID,
the European Union, the Government of France and the UK Government,
The report also discouraged traffic through the Sundarbans to protect its environment, underlining the formulation of rules and guideline for the use of waterways in the Sundarbans.  
It also highlighted a number of factors, including the decision to ban tanker traffic in the river that minimized the penetration of oil into the ecosystem.
The initial findings of the mission were presented to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the media on December 31, 2014.
The government of Bangladesh is keen to implement the recommendations through formulating an action plan, the minister for Environment and Forests Anwar Hossain Manju said.  
 "We are lucky that we could handle the situation. The people of Bangladesh have experience to fight natural disasters but oil spill is new for us," he said.
 "The movement of water vessels through the Sundarbans is not possible to stop immediately but the government is thinking to find an alternative," he said.   
Pauline Tamesis, the country Director of UNDP, said  "The report leaves us with a set of recommendations. We'll assist Bangladesh government to implement the the recommendations."
The secretary in-charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests Kamal Uddin Ahmed also spoke at the conference.

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