‘Save Sundarbans’ plan in the offing

Hasibul Aman

15 September, 2019 12:00 AM printer

‘Save Sundarbans’ plan in the offing

The government has taken an initiative to protect the world’s largest mangrove forest -- the Sundarbans -- from the pollution caused by nearby Mongla port.

The important world heritage is at risk because of oil, petroleum products and types of waste thrown from ships using the sea port, the country’s second largest.

The Shipping Ministry is going to launch a Tk 439 crore project called ‘Modern waste and leaked oil disposal management of Mongla Port’ in this regard, sources in the ministry said.

The project proposal is now under scrutiny of the Planning Commission and is likely to get nod from Ecnec, the highest economic policy-making body.

Once the project is implemented, oil, petroleum items and other waste -- thrown into the Pasur river by bulk containers, tankers and other vessels to and from Mongla Port -- could be separated from the river water.

After collecting the waste, it will be segmented into industrial waste, plastic and other solid waste and will be sold out, which at the same time will protect the Sundarbans from pollution under the said scheme.  

It will also help control spreading of oil immediately after any oil tanker sinks in the Pasur or other rivers nearby, shipping ministry officials also claimed.

Besides, the leaked oil will be deposited in intermediate bulk container (IBC) after collecting by oil removing vessels.

Once the IBC tanks are filled up, the collected oil will be deposited in floating storage tanks and be treated, which will be later sold through tenders. 

Once the project is approved, it was expected that the Mongla Port authority would implement it by June 2022.

The project activity includes procurement of one waste collecting vessel, two oil removing vessels, one workshop cleaning equipment, two dump trucks, two dump barges and a service tugboat, among others.

In addition, the vessels would also help security supervision, emergency piloting and regularly supervising the Mongla port channel.

“There are many challenges to the environment, especially waste management which is a matter of high priority of the government,” a planning ministry high-up said, asking not to be named.

The plying of ships to and from Mongla and Pyra ports will increase significantly, which will also pose a huge risk to environment pollution as disposal of waste into the rivers near these ports will increase as well.

The government was prioritising such waste management projects as it sought to protect the coastal areas through scientific methods, the official added.