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Halt to plying river transports inside Sundarbans demanded

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Staff Reporter Environmentalists on Wednesday demanded immediate halt to plying of all kinds of commercial river transports inside the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, to protect its biodiversity. Besides, they also demanded punitive action against Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) for giving permission to ply river transport through the Sundarbans. The demands were made in a joint statement issued by the leaders of 10 green organizations. They included convenor of National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads & Railways-NCPSRR Ashis Kumar Dey; chairman of Water Environment Institute Engr M Enamul Haque; president of Green Club of Bangladesh Nurur Rahman Selim; member secretary of Nirapad Noupath Bastobayan Andolan Aminur Rasul Babul; joint secretary of Banglasdesh Paribesh Andolan (BAPA) Mihir Biswas; and secretary general of Citizens Rights Movement Tushar Rehman. The joint statement came following the capsize of an oil tanker in the Shela River, causing serious oil spill over a huge area of the Sundarbans, threatening its flora and fauna mainly the aquatic animals. The oil tanker, OT Southern Star 7, carrying some 3.57 lakh litres of furnace oil, sank in the river at Migmari under East Zone of the Sundarbans after being hit by a cargo vessel ‘Total Cargo’ at 5 am on Tuesday. In their joint statement, the green organizations said they have been protesting since November 2011 when BIWTA gave permission to ply river transports through the Sundarbans. They also demanded immediate removal of as well as punishment to BIWTA chairman Shamsuddoha Khandker as the natural environment of the Sundarbans fell in endanger due to accidents inside its river routes.