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Oil spill in Sundarbans PM asks to accelerate removing oil, monitoring

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pmStaff Reporter
Asking the authorities concerned to stay alert against the recurrence of any oil spill in rivers, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said removing the oil slicks from the rivers across Sundarbans with the active participation of local people is a very effective step and directed them to accelerate it.
She also instructed the authorities concerned to properly monitor the incident in the Sundarbans so that the world's largest mangrove forest is not harmed.
"The matter in the Sundarbans needs to be monitored in a better way," she said while exchanging views with the Khulna Divisional Commissioner Md Abdus Samad through videoconferencing from the Cabinet Division conference room.
Conducted by the Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, Railways Minister Mujibul Haque, PM's Principal Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikder, PMO Senior Secretary Md Abul Kamal Azad and PM's Press Secretary AKM Shameem Chowdhuri were, among others, present.
The Prime Minister first exchanged views with the Gopalganj District Development Coordination Committee, including the government officials of various departments under Gopalganj district including Deputy Commissioner and Police Super. She also exchanged views with the Deputy Commissioner and Police Super of Jessore.
The Prime Minister said the Ghasiar Khal, which was the main waterway to go to Mongla Port, was shut due to heavy siltation after the BNP-Jamaat government had closed the Mongla Port after grabbing power in 2001.
She said the other sub-canals connected with the Ghasiar Khal have also become ineffective following the setting up of some shrimp enclosures on the channels of those sub-canals. “These shrimp enclosures should be closed down as those are putting hindrance to the flow of those sub-canals,” Hasina said.
The Prime Minister said the Shipping Ministry has already been asked to dredge the Ghasiar Khal in the Sundarbans and once it is dredged properly, the waterway distance to the Mongla Port will reduce by 7-8 miles.
Hasina also directed the authorities concerned so that the project for dredging Kapatakhha Nad goes well.
On December 9, an oil tanker carrying some 3.57 lakh litres of furnace oil sank in the Shela River at Mrigmari under the East Zone of the Sundarbans after being hit by a cargo vessel, causing a serious threat to the existence of the mangrove forest and its natural resources due to the oil spill.
 While exchanging views with the Jessore district administration, the Prime Minister said the joint deputy commissioner-level meeting between bordering districts of India and Bangladesh known as DCDM meeting is a very good initiative and also a very effective steps towards ensuring the law and order situation, checking drug smuggling, women and children trafficking and fleeing to other countries by criminals.
"I think these things cannot be controlled single handedly and this is why there is a need for good understanding with the bordering country," the PM added.
If joint initiatives could be taken, Hasina said, it would be possible to maintain the law and order situation, check drug smuggling, trafficking of women and children.
She also directed the Jessore district administration so that there is no intrusion of substandard fertilizers into the country.
Earlier in her introductory remarks in the videoconferencing with Gopalganj District Administration Coordination Committee, the Prime Minister said that Gopalganj has long been neglected, especially after the assassination of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, as after that killing, Gopalganj used to be treated in a different way.
The Prime Minister said her government’s aim is to ensure economic development of the country's people, including the marginal rural people as it wants to reduce the gap between the rich and poor and remove the income inequality. “Our government has been working so that people could get civic amenities even staying in rural areas."
Citing her government's success in reducing the poverty rate to 24.4 percent, Hasina expressed her high optimism to reduce the poverty rate by another 10 percent in her present tenure which could only be possible through boosting the rural economy and creating more jobs there.
The Prime Minister directed the government officials to complete the development works properly before the time schedule to turn Bangladesh into a mid-income country by 2021.
She reiterated her pledge that no one would remain homeless in the country as everyone would get home to live.
Hasina also asked the district administrations to ensure food security, improve the communication system, make sure that children get free textbooks in the beginning of the year, give special attention that snails are not extracted heavily as food for shrimps to maintain ecological balance, searching for potential in cotton cultivation, making more effective the social safety net and poverty alleviation programs and stumping out militants.