Published : Thursday, 25 December, 2014, Time : 12:00 AM, View Count : 14
Banani Mallick The 25-member team of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) comprising nine foreign officials and experts has extended their visit six days more to investigate the oil spillage-stricken areas of Sundarban. On Wednesday, at a press briefing Amelia Walstrom, Chief of the UN expert team, informed the local journalists that on December 31, they will have a press conference at Dhaka where they will disclose their findings on the investigation of oil slick in the Shela River. On December 29 and 30, they will collate all the facts and later doing minute analysis, they will make a full report following scientific approach. Nyma Nargis, Programme Officer of Communication and Information of UNESCO Dhaka office, over mail informed this correspondent that their investigation is basically to investigate the impact of spilled oil that has already been spread out in the canals and rivers, the long and short term impact on the jungle, animals, planktons -- marine and freshwater organisms that are the base of food web in an aquatic environment. Talking about the objective of the visit, she said that the UN experts are looking into long-term mitigation and preventive measures. She also noted that in response to a request from the Bangladesh government, the UN system in Bangladesh mobilised an international team of experts to support the government's cleanup efforts of the oil spill in the Sundarban. On December 21, the UN team reached Mongla in Bagerhat to assess the extent of damage to the world's largest mangrove forest due to the oil spillage. The international experts, divided into six groups, embarked on preparing ground work in coordination with the government to conduct an assessment and advise on recovery and risk reduction measures during their visit. Yunus Ali, Chief Conservator of Forest said that the UNDP team would work to assess the extent of damage and recommend what measures can be taken. He also said that the international experts will also try to figure out if the local community living around the forest needs any support for their livelihood during the interim period. The experts and environmentalists have also expressed their concerns about the long- term effect on the aquatic life as the food for fish in the water body has already went down by 80 percent, says a Khulna University study. The Southern Star-7, carrying 35, 000 of furnace oil, was hit by another cargo vessel and sank in the Shela River of Sundarban. However, two secretaries including Shafique Alam Mehdi,Secretary of Shipping Ministry and Md Najibur, Secretary of Environment and Forest will visit Bagerhat and Mongla Shipping Secretary will visit the Mongla-Kumarkhalo-Ghashakhali to oversee the dredging being conducted by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and later will meet the UN team members. Visiting the oil spill affected area, Md Najibur, Secretary of Environment and Forest Ministry will meet the UN team and will have an view-exchange meeting with the local administration at the meeting room of Mongla port.