The government, in association with the locals, on Monday intensified its efforts to remove the oil slicks that spread in the rivers of Shela and Pashur and over 20 canals which crisscross the world's largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans.
At least 200 hired workers in nearly 100 engine and country boats have started a campaign to collect the oil from rivers and canals. The price of the oil collected by the local people from the river has been raised from Tk 30 to Tk 40 to encourage them further.
The villagers using sponges, shovels and even spoons continued to work on Friday to clean up the huge oil spill. The authorities earlier had asked local people to collect the furnace oil using fishing nets, sponges or any other manual means and sell it to the state-run Padma Oil Company.
"It has no commercial value as it can't be used, but we are using the offer to encourage people so that the cleaning up process speeds up," said Rafiqul Islam Babul of the Padma Oil Company.
"Villagers including children are going out onto the river in boats to collect the oil floating on the water using sponges, shovels and spoons," he said.
Meanwhile, some oil collectors on Saturday alleged that they had lost interest because the owner company was not paying them the promised Tk 30 per litre. As of Monday, Padma Oil Company, owner of the oil, has collected around 40,000 litres of the spilled oil from the locals.
On December 9, an oil tanker carrying some 3.57 lakh litres of furnace oil sank in the Shela River at Mrigmari under the East Zone of the Sundarbans after being hit by a cargo vessel, causing a serious threat to the existence of the mangrove forest and its natural resources due to the oil spill. The oil spread over an 80km area in the forest.