Govt bans plying of cargo vessels on Shela River in Sundarbans permanently

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Dhaka, Mar 23: The government on Wednesday prohibited plying of all kinds of cargo vessels through Shela river inside the Sundarbans permanently.

“We have decided that movements of all kinds of cargo vessels suspended permanently on the Shela river. We have allowed some stranded vessels drafting over 12-feet including some Indian vessels to cross the Shela river by today (Wednesday) and then it will remain closed to cargo vessels permanently,” shipping minister Shajahan Khan told reporters after a taskforce meeting formed to protect country’s river including four city rivers held at the secretariat.

Among others, housing and public works minister Mosharraf Hossain, water resources secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan, shipping secretary Ashik Madhab Roy, BIWTA chairman commodore M Mozammel Huq, director general of department of shipping commodore M Zakiur Rahman Bhuiyan and other concerned high officials attended the meeting.

“The whole nation is concern following some recent incidents and sinking of some vessels on the Shela river. There are obvious environmental damage after the capsize of an oil tanker and the recent one of a coal-laden vessel,” Shajahan Khan said in reply to a query.

He said the probe body earlier recommended to shut the Shela River route permanently, salvaging the two sunken vessels on the river as soon as possible and marking the spots where vessels have capsized earlier.

“The vessel owners now have to use the Mongla-Ghashiakhali channel instead of Shela river. The vessels those have over 12-feet draft have to ply under loading through the Mongla channel as an alternative route to Shela,” the minister added.

He further said that efforts would be continued to protect the country’s rivers including Adi Buriganga.

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