Stop goods vessels plying Shela River in Sundarbans: National Committee
The National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads & Railways (NCPSRR) on Sunday urged the concerned authorities to take necessary steps to stop plying of vessels through the Shela River in Sundarbans to keep its biodiversity intact.
NCPSRR, a green and civil rights body, has been campaigning long for an environmentally and public-friendly transport system, also demanded opening the alternative channel on the Mongla-Ghashiakhali route 24 hours a day for plying by all kinds of commercial ships.
In a joint statement, following the repetition of a navigational accident at Shela River, National Committee adviser & senior politician Manzurul Ahsan Khan and its general secretary journalist Ashis Kumar Dey made the call to the Shipping Ministry and the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
They also demanded taking initiatives to prevent accidents.
The statement said unplanned installation of sluice gate by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) coupled with several hundred illegal dams in canals and hundreds of shrimp farms have been the main obstacles to protection of the rivers.
Despite having an inter-ministerial decision to remove the sluice gate, statement said, BWDB is yet to act to implement it. Besides, local administration shows sheer negligence towards evicting illegal dams and environmentally harmful shrimp farms.
BIWTA has reopened part of the Monga-Ghashikhali channel to vessel operation after a massive dredging operation that cost around Tk 300 crore. But maintaining navigability appears a major challenge as many spots in the channel are being quickly silted due to the sluice gate, dams and shrimp farms that obstruct water flow, they added.
The environmentalists said vessels plying the Shela River may bring any environmental havoc any time. If such a situation continues, the Sundarbans will be destroyed through manmade disasters in the days to come, they observed.