Target: Dr. Md. Samsuddoha Khondaker, Chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority
Goal: Repeal the 2011 approval of the Bangladesh Sundarbans as a trade route
A devastating oil spill in a Bangladeshi Estuary has threatened the habitat of Irrawaddy and Gangetic dolphins and the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger. The oil tanker in question was traveling along an approved route through the Chandpai Dolphin Sanctuary. We demand that Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) repeal the 2011 approval of tanker trade routes through the greater Bangladeshi Sundarbans.
The Sundarbans is a delicate estuarine ecosystem that inhabits many rare and endangered animals. Covering approximately 3,850 square miles, a third of which lies in India and two thirds in Bangladesh, the dense mangrove forest is home to dolphins, turtles, crocodile, sharks, otters, the Kingfisher, and over 300 species of birds. At low tide monkeys, wild boar, spotted deer, and even the Royal Bengal Tiger call the Unesco World Heritage Site home.
The OT South Star 7, an oil tanker carrying 92,000 gallons of lamp fuel, was docked for the night in the Sela River at the mouth of the Sundarbans. Early in the morning of December 9 an empty tanker collided with the South Star, sending its crew fleeing to the shore, killing its captain, and spilling its 350 tons of oil. The oil has traveled deep into the mangrove estuarine system and cleanup has been largely left to ill-equipped locals.
In April 2011, the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority approved this river passing through the Sundarbans after another channel lost its navigability due to heavy silting. The decisions was opposed by the Environment and Forest Ministry and in defiance of the laws of Unesco’s World Heritage Comission and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Sign the petition below to demand that this route be unapproved for future travel and help protect the lives of rare and endangered species.
Dear Dr. Md. Samsuddoha Khondaker,
The recent oil spill by OT South Star 7 in the Bangladeshi Sundarbans was an unfortunate but inevitable event. Since your ministry approved tanker traffic through this region, this catastrophe has been waiting to happen.
As a steward of an unique ecosystem, home to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring animals, it is your responsibility to protect this biodiversity prior to expanding industrial activity near and through it. I understand the desire, if not the obligation, to increase commercial activity for the good of the Bangladeshi economy. However, an equal if not paramount effort to protect ecosystems and prevent rampant industrialization is now apparent.
I hope you learn through the upcoming cleanup of this oil spill that some shortcuts are not worth taking if they endanger our environment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Khondkar Mostaque Ahmed via Wikimedia Commons