Salvation of cargo MV Bilash capsized in Harbaria channel of Passur River near the Sunderbans two days ago carrying 775 tonnes of coal was yet to start while green activists slammed the government for negligence in protecting the world’s largest mangrove forest.
Owner of the vessel Dulal Ahmed told New Age that rescue operation would start today or Wednesday just after the vessel’s insurance company completed an assessment of the accident.
MV Bilash, heading for Mirpur in Dhaka, got stuck in a hidden shoal Saturday night and sank in the river in Bagerhat, he said.
Dulal said that that salvage of the vessel would take at least 15 days.
Khulna circle conservator of forest Amir Hosain Chowdhury said that the forest department had requested the Mongla Port Authority for a quick salvation of the coal-laden cargo.
Amir said that leakage of coal over the time would contaminate the river water.
He said that two teams led by forest officials visited the spot.
A team lead by environment department officials collected water sample from the spot for quality assessment, he added.
Mongla port harbour master commander Waliullah said that the port authority would take charge of the vessel after its owner completed salvation.
Greens have expressed concerns about the accident accusing the government of negligence in protecting the Sunderbans, a world heritage site.
In a statement, National Committee for Protection of Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Electricity Sector and Port convener Sheikh Shahidullah and member secretary Anu Muhammad said that the government, facilitating local and foreign vested interests, was implementing hazardous industrialisation in the close proximity of the Sundebans, allowing busy traffic in the Passur River, the lifeline of the mangrove forest.
They urged people to participate in a demonstration demanding ban on vessel movement through the Sunderbans water ways and cancellation of Rampal coal-fired power plant project.
In another statement, National Committee for Saving the Sunderbans member secretary Mohammad Abdul Matin demanded immediate salvation of the coal-laden vessel.
Citing previous waterway accidents inside the environmentally critical area, Matin urged the government to respond with the greens’ long-time demand to ban vessel movement through the Sunderbans.
Communist Party of Bangladesh president Mujahidul Islam Selim and general secretary Md Shah Alam condemned the government’s negligence in protecting the Sunderbans.
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