Bangladesh Department of Environment has formulated a draft oil spill contingency plan. The plan will be discussed with different agencies, before going to the cabinet for approval.
The draft plan suggests the government should establish a separate entity that will lead the response to future oil spills.
At the same time, the draft suggested that the government should make the Bangladesh Coast Guard the operational entity given that is the only organisation that has the access and the capacity to work across coastal areas.
The Department of Environment would remain the lead agency under the contingency plan as it is the sole authority to check environmental pollution in Bangladesh.
After experiencing three major incidents over the last 13 months, Bangladesh has finally started the prosses.
This will help the country avoid further large-scale damages and also receive cooperation from other countries in the region to jointly to tackle such accidents.
In fact, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2010 among five coastal countries in South Asia – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but the initiative is only being taken now, more than five years later, to draft the contingency plan under the MoU.
The Bangladesh government has assigned the Department of Environment under the Ministry of Environment and Forests to lead the work.
Bangladesh does not have expertise on the issue. Countries that have already formulated their own national contingency plans, have extended a helping hand. For instance, Sri Lanka invited Bangladeshi government officials to join in a week-long workshop on oil spill management.-Asfar