Sundarbans sullied by visitors’ rubbish
The forest department is in a dilemma over how to manage a huge volume of garbage littered by an increasing number of tourists visiting the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world.
With the number of tourists increasing every year, Sundarbans faces the worst littering problem with discarded polythene bags, plastic and glass bottles of all sorts.
According to the divisional forest headquarters in Khulna, from July 2015 till January 2016, more than 120,000 people obtained passes to visit the interior of the 6,017 square kilometer of the Bangladeshi part of the Sundarbans. The number includes over 4000 foreign nationals. Each of the local visitors is required to pay Tk. 525 and a foreign national Tk. 5200 for visiting the forest with a tour operator.
In Katka, the tip of the forest by the Bay of Bengal, the littering problem is addressed with couple of signboards near which hundreds of discarded bottles and polythene bags litter the forest ground. It is a popular 3-kilometer trek to the beach for tourists. In Kachikhali and elsewhere along the creeks and canals, the scenario is the same.
Khulna Circle’s Conservator of Forest, Zahiruddin Ahmed, expressed his concern over the issue but said the forest department has various on-going motivational programs to stop littering the Sundarbans with wastes.
“We are holding talks with the tour operators regularly to find ways to motivate the visitors against dumping of wastes in the forest,” he added.
Hasan Mansur, a pioneer in the sector with the Guide Tours, says littering has been a major problem in the Sundarbans.
“We need to make it mandatory for everyone to brief the tourists and all operators on how to manage personal wastes while visiting the forest,” he says.
Emamul Hossain, working in the Sundarbans with a leading tour operator for the last seven years, says most visitors are aware of the hazards of wastes in the forest.
“Most visitors bring back their personal wastes to the vessel in which they travel,” says Hossain, “ but the cleaners on board these vessels do not know what to do with the wastes and simply dump them into the river and the high tide pushes the rubbish into the depth of the forest crisscrossed by hundreds of canals.”
go site Report and Photos by Morshed Ali Khan, back from the Sundarbans
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