Bushes along the river banks in the Sunderbans bear the marks of oil spillage. The photo was taken
on Friday. — Sony Ramany
Spilled furnace oil would cause long damage to the soil of Sunderbans, the beds and shores of the affected rivers and canals, soil science teachers from two universities said. Three soil science teachers from the universities of Dhaka and Chittagong said that spilled oil would damage the affected areas’ algae, planktons, other microorganisms and recycling of food nutrients. Spilled oil that got deposited under the beds and slopes of rivers and canals and the soil on the shores would obstruct the process of decomposition of dead plants, aquatic life and animals for long and adversely affect the ecosystem and the food chain in the area, they said. It would affect the growth of plants posing serious challenges to survival of birds, animals and other living beings that survive on plants, Chittagong University soil science teacher Khan Towhid Osman told New Age. Dhaka University soil, water and environment professor Sirajul Hoque said that oil deposited in the mud would affect the decomposition of matter in the affected soil and the food chain. The massive oil spills that took place during the dry season would remain deposited in the mud for long to cause other harms to the environment, they said. Finding out the exact losses caused and the ways to recovery would require detailed studies, they said. On December 9, a tanker capsized emptying 3.58 lakh litres of furnace oil in the Shela River, flowing down the Sunderbans, affecting at least 350 square km of the mangrove forest tracts. On Tuesday, facing criticisms from environmentalists and biodiversity conservationists, the forest department abandoned its amateurish efforts to manually clean up the spillage by hired villagers. DU soil, water and environment teacher Khalilur Rahman said that acidity in spilled oil was bound to affect the growth of planktons and algae.
Source: New Age