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Race against time to save Halda River

10,000 litres of furnace oil scooped from Chattogram canal

30 Apr 2019, 13:06

NTV Online

Chattogram: When three wagons carrying furnace oil fell into a canal connected to the Halda River, the local administration jumped in to protect the country’s largest fish spawning ground.

As much as 105,000 litres of oil spilled into the canal after Monday’s accident. The Hathazari administration has been able to retrieve around 10,000 litres with the help of local until Tuesday morning, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Md Ruhul Amin said, reports the UNB.

Prof Dr Manzoorul Kibria of Chittagong University, who is also a Halda researcher, said the oil spread over a two-kilometre area of the canal.

 Amin said they set up 10 makeshift embankments to stop the oil from spreading further. ‘We’re trying to prevent the oil from entering the river, which is about 10 kilometres from here,’ he said.

Prof Kibria said Halda’s aquatic life and biodiversity might have suffered a huge blow if it were not for the embankments. ‘Halda has narrowly been saved from a disaster,’ he said.

The Department of Environment, Hathazari municipality, and Chattogram Port Authority also joined the cleanup drive in Egaromile area. The railway authorities formed two committees to investigate the accident.

To encourage the locals to collect the spilled oil, the local administration said it will buy oil from them at Tk 20 per litre.

 UNO Amin said the river is not free from danger yet. ‘Everything will be okay if it doesn’t rain,’ he said. ‘The makeshift embankments, though weak, have been useful.’

Meanwhile, severe cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ intensified into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ in the morning, the Met Office said.

It has moved slightly northwards and was centred about 1,325 km Southwest of Chattogram port. ‘Fani’ is likely to intensify further and move in a north or northwesterly direction.