Wednesday, December 11, 2019 | ePaper

Save the Sundarbans, it will protect us

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THE Sundarbans, now most neglected world's largest mangrove forest, again has protected the country from the mighty storm 'Bulbul'. Not only the Bangladesh, the Sundarbans this time has also saved neighbouring India's West Bengal from an obvious deadly disaster.  The forest, renowned for its selfless deeds from the prehistoric time, is now under threat as our government is mindlessly setting up coal-fired Rampal power plant in the fringe of it. The cyclone crossed Khulna and adjoining southwestern part of Bangladesh after lashing West Bengal coast near the Sundarbans on Sunday evening. But what is astonishing is that, the Bangladesh Department of Forest has no idea and data about the damages of the Sundarbans' flora and fauna. We must say, the authorities concern should assess the damage of the forest and take initiatives for the damage repairing in an urgent basis.
The cyclone 'Bulbul' killed about 20 people and caused sufferings to more than two million others. The cyclone hit the coastal belt with a tremendous speed of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour late on Saturday, forcing the closure of Ports and Airports in both countries. 'Bulbul' hit the Sundarbans coast, the forest which straddles Bangladesh and India, and is home to endangered species including Royal Bengal Tigers and Irrawaddy dolphins. No doubt, the mangroves shielded the coast from the storm's full impact.
We know the Sundarbans is also rich in biodiversity with close to 700 animal species and 340 plant species. Its trees act as the first line of defense against natural disasters such as cyclones and hurricanes. Building the coal-fired power plant and other industries adjacent to the Sundarbans will certainly threaten the mangrove's ecosystem and the livelihoods of thousands of people dependent on it. To keep running the Rampal power plant would require Bangladesh to import around 5 million tons of coal each year, transported by large cargo ships through the Sundarbans, which could spread huge quantities of fly ash, coal dust, Sulphur and other toxic materials into the forest including its water-bodies.
The Sundarbans is still protecting the human settlements from the natural disasters. We must save it.

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