The Sundarbans is the world largest mangrove forest, which covers 26,000 square km in India and Bangladesh, is also the habitat of famous Royal Bengal Tigers.
An oil tanker carrying 358,000 liters (almost 100,000 gallons) of furnace oil sank in the Shela river on December 7, spilling oil over more than 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) of the Sundarbans. Located on in southwest Bangladesh, the Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world, covering approximately 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 square miles), of which 60 percent is in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger, and provides sanctuary to many other species.
Experts estimated a ৳1,000,000,000 loss from the sinking of the oil-tanker. The residents of surrounding areas of Sundarbans are at a health risk after the environment and fauna disaster.
The government of Bangladesh called the residents to collect and sell the oil to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation. Consequently, the local oil collectors would face ultimate health risks and various skin diseases, including hair fallout if a furnace oil mixed with water contacts face or hair.
Environmentalists warned the event as an ecological "catastrophe" as the event occurred at a protected Sundarbans mangrove area, home to rare Irrawaddy and Ganges dolphins.Experts expressed their concerns saying that due to the oil spill, normal life of the aquatic organisms of Sundarbans will be hampered as animals like dolphins come above the water to take a breath. Wildlife near the river have a life risk because they couldn’t breathe due to the smell of oil. Some images published indicates the disaster killed some animals.
At least 200 hired workers in nearly 100 engine and country boats have started a campaign to collect the oil from rivers and channels, a local resident told PTI over phone. The workers were loading the boats with the oil they were collecting manually using the traditional equipment and depositing those in tanks in nearby ferry terminals.
The authorities earlier had asked local people to collect the furnace oil using fishing nets, sponges or any other manual means and sell it to the state-run Padma Oil Company.
Seven members of the sunken tanker’s crew managed to swim ashore, but their captain Mokhlesur Rahman was missing till Friday evening.The authorities have filed a lawsuit against the owners of both ships.
Officials said oil spill from the sunken tanker affected seven young saltwater crocodiles at Karamjal Wildlife Reproduction Centre and they were concerned about the fate of dolphins in the region it is their natural abode.
Sundarban is our national heritage we should stand together for supporting it.