Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | December 15, 2014 | 06:19 pm IST The Sunderbans, one of the biggest natural reserves in the country, is at risk of losing its abundant wildlife due to a major oil spill in the river Sela that passes through the reserve. The spill occurred on the 9th of December, when a cargo vessel collided with an oil tanker that caused the spilling of 3,50,000 litres of oil into the river. According to The Daily O, even though the spill had taken place a week ago, neither the Indian government, nor did the mainstream Indian media pay much attention to it. The reason? The spill technically took place on the Bangladesh side of the reserve. The country shares the Sundarbans national reserve with India and along with it, the river Sela. The oil however has spread to the Indian side of the reserve, causing much danger to the aquatic and other wildlife in the reserve. This is not the first time the Sunderbans have faced danger. In the last three years, it has seen other spills – one of fly ash and another of fertilizer. The use of the transport route that operates through the reserve was asked to be discontinued by UNESCO last year, but neither country seems to have given it much thought. The biggest threat of the spill is posed to the three fresh water dolphin reserves that inhabit the river at different parts of the reserve. One dolphin has reportedly lost its life. The other dolphins are equally at risk as they cannot come to the surface for oxygen due to the thick layer of oil that has spread across the river. Villagers and people living around the river have been trying their best to help the situation by cleaning out as much oil as they can. The spill also affects their daily lives as they, including fishermen, depend on its water for livelihoods. Although the Bangladesh government has taken some steps to clear the river, it does not have enough resources to clean up the whole river and save the wildlife in time. This is where the Indian government needs to step in and help its last hopes at conserving wildlife that is already endangered. Arati Kumar-Rao, a photographer and an environmentalist has written extensively about the spill and the Sunderbans in her blog The River Diaries. In her bog she writes about the spill and how it will affect the beautiful reserve which is home to several of the world’s endangered species. These are a few photographs taken and uploaded on Instagram by Arati Kumar-Rao. People from the villages around the spill have been pressed into service collecting oil from the mudflats. They work knee-deep in mud, elbow-deep in grease. 1 litre/ hour they collect, they say. And sell it for 25 takas. These people used to collect fish fry and sell that. It would fetch anywhere between 400 - 600 taka per day, for about 100-2000 fish fry. There are no fish now, they say. Dec 9, 2014: A cargo ship rammed an oil tanker on the Sela River in the Bangaldeshi Sundarbans. 3,50,000 liters of oil are leaking into the channels crisscrossing the forest. Twice daily tides are sloshing the slicks up and down. #onassignment #riverdiaries #bangladesh #oilspill #biodiversity #mangroves #estuary #delta #rivers #livelihood #fisheries #fishing #fishermen A photo posted by Arati Kumar-Rao (@aratikumarrao) on Dec 12, 2014 at 7:32am PST People from the villages around the spill have been pressed into service collecting oil from the mudflats. They work knee-deep in mud, elbow-deep in grease. 1 litre/ hour they collect, they say. And sell it for 25 takas. These people used to collect fish fry and sell that. It would fetch anywhere between 400 - 600 taka per day, for about 100-2000 fish fry. There are no fish now, they say. Dec 9, 2014: A cargo ship rammed an oil tanker on the Sela River in the Bangaldeshi Sundarbans. 3,50,000 liters of oil are leaking into the channels crisscrossing the forest. Twice daily tides are sloshing the slicks up and down. #onassignment #riverdiaries #bangladesh #oilspill #biodiversity #mangroves #estuary #delta #rivers #livelihood #fisheries #fishing #fishermen A photo posted by Arati Kumar-Rao (@aratikumarrao) on Dec 12, 2014 at 7:32am PST People from the villages around the spill have been pressed into service collecting oil from the mudflats. They work knee-deep in mud, elbow-deep in grease. 1 litre/ hour they collect, they say. And sell it for 25 takas. These people used to collect fish fry and sell that. It would fetch anywhere between 400 - 600 taka per day, for about 100-2000 fish fry. There are no fish now, they say. Dec 9, 2014: A cargo ship rammed an oil tanker on the Sela River in the Bangaldeshi Sundarbans. 3,50,000 liters of oil are leaking into the channels crisscrossing the forest. Twice daily tides are sloshing the slicks up and down. #onassignment #riverdiaries #bangladesh #oilspill #biodiversity #mangroves #estuary #delta #rivers #livelihood #fisheries #fishing #fishermen A photo posted by Arati Kumar-Rao (@aratikumarrao) on Dec 12, 2014 at 7:32am PST Being able to keep your nose above water is vital to plant life in the #mangrove #estuaries of the #sundarbans ... These #pneumatophores are aerial roots, snorkels, if you will, that allow plants to breathe at high tide. Now imagine the tide carrying furnace oil. When the tide recedes, the oil will smear itself on these snorkels, defeating their very purpose. Dec 9, 2014: A cargo ship rammed an oil tanker in the Bangaldeshi Sundarbans. 3,50,000 liters of oil are leaking into the channels crisscrossing the forest. Twice daily tides are sloshing the slicks up and down. #onassignment #riverdiaries #bangladesh #oilspill #biodiversity #mangroves #estuary #delta #rivers A photo posted by Arati Kumar-Rao (@aratikumarrao) on Dec 12, 2014 at 3:17am PST
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