Sunderbans oil spill: More must be done

The 350-tonne oil spill caused by the collision between an oil tanker and a cargo vessel in a part of the Sunderbans is likely to damage the fragile ecology of this precious natural system.

Sunderbans straddles both India and Bangladesh and the disaster took place in the Bangladesh part of it. The spill is about 100 km long and is reported to be spreading by 20 km every day. The threat to the flora and fauna is obvious. The Sunderbans is one of Unesco’s 32 world heritage sites and the responsibility to protect its ecosystem is on the governments of both countries.

The 10,000 sq km area has a variety of animal, bird, fish and plant life. The mangrove forests are a natural wonder and have an important role in regulating the weather and environment of the region.

Bangladesh does not have the technical expertise and ability to fight a hazard of the kind and gravity. India has done well to offer help to that country to carry out remedial operations. There is an agreement between the two countries on joint management of the Sunderbans but not much has been done under it. The Bangladesh government has taken some steps like use of oil dispersants to break up the spill but much more needs to be done. Oil spills have happened in many places in many countries.

They have posed big challenges to even those who have the best expertise and equipment. The US found it difficult to deal effectively with the oil spill caused by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Fish and many other marine creatures were major casualties. It also caused lasting genetic defect to many species. The cleaning operations typically take weeks and even months and a lot of marine life including vegetation gets destroyed during the period. The economic and financial impact is also considerable because large numbers of people like fishermen are deprived of their means of livelihood for long periods.

The oil spill in Sunderbans may be the first case in which a specially endowed natural system is threatened in such a manner. The Irrawady and Ganga dolphins which are special to the area but whose numbers are dwindling may be particularly at risk. There are other forms of life on water and land which need to be saved from the effects of the spill. It must be ensured that the Sunderbans survives with minimum damage. The idea of banning certain kinds of transport in the area should be considered.

Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi? Who will win the battle royale of the Lok Sabha Elections 2019

Get real-time news updates, views and analysis on Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on 

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram with #DHPoliticalTheatre for live updates on the Indian general elections 2019.

Liked the story?

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0

  • 0