Ash Barges are increasing Concerns of Ecology of Sundarbans
The Fisheries organization and environmental experts flag serious threats to the ecology of Indian Sundarbans as the fly ash filled barges are sinking and capsizing in Hooghly river.
In April 2020, two fly ash filled barges sank within a range of 30 kilometres of Hooghly river. Around 100 Bangladeshi barges each weighing 600 tonnes to 800 tonnes traverse through Indian waters. They carry fly ash from Indian thermal power station to Bangladesh where the fly ashes are used in manufacturing cement.
What is the issue?
The vessels that sunk in the river are threatening the local fishes and other aquatic biodiversity. This in turn is affecting lives of 1000s of fishermen.
Most of the barges that are carrying the fly ashes are old and are ill maintained. They often cause accidents.
The Hooghly river is a distributary of the Ganges. River Ganga splits into Hooghly and River Padma at Murshidabad. River Padma flows towards Bangladesh and River Hooghly flows south into West Bengal.
The Farakka Barrage diverts waters of the Ganges to the city of Murshidabad. It also supplies water to River Hooghly according to the agreement signed between India and Bangladesh.
The Fly Ash is a by product of coal combustion. Fly ash has several useful applications. It includes concrete production, embankments, fly-ash pellets, road subbase construction, cement clinker production, brick production, etc.