A CARGO vessel carrying 1,000 tonnes of coal sinking in the River Passur near the Sunderbans in Bagerhat is concerning on a few counts. Although the cargo sank about one nautical mile west off Hiron Point, which is 20 kilometres off the forest reserve boundary, a definite conclusion on its effect on the Sunderbans cannot be instantly reached. Yet, there is a lurking danger, especially because the coal contains a gas that is soluble in water and with such a huge amount of coal remaining under water, damage caused by the contamination of water with the gas could be telling, if not in large measure on the Sunderbans, but to a dangerous extent on the ecology of a huge sea area. Any impact of such contaminated water, whatever small, could also come in a big way especially after a series of such disasters that have already probably threatened the biodiversity and ecology of the mangrove forest.
In March 2016, a coal cargo sank in the River Sela, which along with the Passur, cleaves the Sunderbans. Before this, a cargo sullied the Sunderbans with the fertiliser it was carrying in May 2015, another cargo discharged its full load of 3,58,000 litres of heavy furnace oil in December 2014 and in September that year, a ship emptied its cement cargo into the protected area of the forest. With a series of big impact caused by the disasters earlier, a minor impact now and in future could prove harmful for the Sunderbans. As the Sela or Passur river routes have not been made permanently off-limits to navigation of commercial vessels, such disasters, which are not unlikely to take place inside the forest again, could lay waste on the forest. Such a proposition calls out the government on looking into other issues, the other counts that are reasons for concerns in the disaster that took place near the Sunderbans on Friday morning.
In the latest incident, the cargo vessel carrying coal is said, on a preliminary investigation, to have sunken after being caught in a strong current, as New Age reported on Saturday. Although a detailed report is yet to be forthcoming, if the vessel being caught in a strong current is what may have caused the disaster, it is more likely that the vessel, which failed to steer clear of the whirl, may not have been navigated by an adequately competent master, which was for the government look into beforehand. Such a situation could also result from flaws in the design of the vessel. Yet, what remains more concerning is that the vessel is also reported to have sunken after it had its hull ruptured. Any or all of the propositions point to some kind of failures on part of the government in regulation enforcement.
The government, in the situation, must look into why the vessel sank and take steps accordingly to address the problems, which, in all probability, might give birth to such disasters one after another.
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