Md Srabon, Mongla
The Tourist industries based on the Sunderbans are now facing a disastrous situation due to the adverse impact of Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, an unprecedented silence has been prevailing at the tourist spots of the Sundarbans.
In absence of the tourists, more than one thousand launches, tour boats, trawlers and other riverine vehicles also remained anchored idle for months. As a result, several thousand labourers and workers who rely for their subsistence on those vehicles also remained unemployed.
According to the sources of the Department of Forestry, the Sunderbans with it 6,017 square-kilometres of areas is a Mangrove forest preserved from 1875 and is included as a site of the World Heritage.
The Sunderbans is enriched with more than 100 varieties of wildlife including the Royal Bengal Tiger, spotted dear, bucking deer, King Kobra, Monkey, crocodile, monitor lizard, mammals and reptiles of 320 species. The forest is enriched with 334 species of trees including Sundari, Pashur, Gaya, Goran, Dhundul and Golpata. The rivers connecting the Sunderbans also enriched with six species of Dolphins including the near-extinct Irrawati Dolphin, Salt water Crocodile and 400 species of fishes.
For varieties of resources, tourists from home and abroad rushed to the Sunderbans throughout the year and visit various environmental and natural beauty, wildlife, flora and fauna enriched spots of the Sunderbans including at Karamjal, Katka, Kochi Khali, Herbaria, Heron Point, Dubla, Alorkole and Nilkomol through launches, tourboats, trawlers and other water-vehicles. Employment of thousands of people has been ensured centering this tourism industry at the Sunderbans. But, due to the adverse impact of Coronavirus pandemic, the running wheel of employment has suddenly been stopped. The Department of Foresty imposed a ban on the movement of tourists throughout the Sunderbans from March-25 resulting a stoppage of movement of some 2,000 trwalers, tour launches, Jali Boats and boats from that time.
Having no movement for a long time, engines of most those river vehicles are now getting rust and turning inoperative. For this reason, people involved with the business are going to suffer a huge loss. Having no thoroughfare of the tourists, the various establishments including the pontoons and wooden bridges of the tourist spots are being damaged.
Azad Kabir Howlader, Officer of Koromjal Wildlife Breeding Centre in this connection informed, a letter to allocate money has been sent to the higher authorities of the department of Forest for repairing of various forest establishments including the pontoon and bridges( pool) and the repair of those will be started as soon as the fund is available.
Mijnaur Rahman, Propritor of ' The Southern Tours and Travellers' informed, due to a ban on the entrance of tourists at the Sunderbans for the last five months, hundreds of hotels, motels and cottages at Mongla and surrounding areas also remain empty and closed, at the same time, the revenue income in the Tourism Sector of the Department of Forestry has dropped. Several thousand owners of the riverine vehicles, labourers and employees employed with the sector are also facing a disastrous situation.
According to sources, during last several years, nearly 20,000 tourists in an average used to visit Sunderband East and the West every year and the annual revenue income from the sector was nearly Taka two crore.
Mainuddin Khan, Conservator of Forest of Khulna Sunderabn region in this connection informed, according to a decision of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climat Affairs, the entrance of tourists in the Sunderban has been kept suspended till the month of October. The Deputy Commissioner of Khulna, however, according to the prayers of the owners of the tour operators, has sent a letter to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Affairs, to reopen the Tourism sectors in the Sunderbans at a limited scale by following proper health rules. But, he could not assure from which date the tourist sectors will be reopened.
Dr. Sheikh Faridul Islam, Chairman of Save the Sunderbans Foundation in this connection said, the tourism sectors in the Sunderbans may be reopened at a limited scale on an experimental basis. Such a step will accelerate the economy of the tourism sector and the unemployed people involved with the sector will get their way to engage themselves in economic activities once again.