The Department of Environment (DoE) has turned down the request by Karnafuly Ship Builders to build a jetty in Cox's Bazar – in order to operate luxury cruise ships – because marine biodiversity could be in danger in the coastal areas of Cox's Bazar and Saint Martin's Island.
Moazzam Hossain, director of the DoE in Chattogram region, told The Business Standard, "The shipping company applied about four months ago to build the jetty. We sent it to the DoE's head office. Since it is not allowed to transport many tourists in the ecologically critical area [ECA], the DoE did not approve the jetty construction project."
Through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the DoE has decided to issue a letter to the Ministry of Shipping, Department of Shipping, Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner's Office, and Ministry of Tourism requesting them to discourage any future proposal for jetty construction in ECA areas, he added.
Sheikh Md Nazmul Huda, deputy director at the DoE in Cox's Bazar, told TBS the department had already informed the shipping company about the decision of the DoE.
Chattogram's Karnafuly Ship Builders had applied to the DoE seeking approval to build a temporary jetty in the Darianagar area of Marine Drive Road, in Cox's Bazar, to operate a 2,000-passenger luxury ship named Bay One for shore excursions on the Cox's Bazar-Saint Martin's route.
Although there are 2,000 seats on the ship, Karnafuly Ship Builders took the initiative to add another 1,000 seats to the ship's open deck, said Mohammad Jahid Ibne Jahan, sales manager of Karnafuly Ship Builders Limited.
According to the DoE, the government declared Saint Martin's Island an ECA in 1999. Due to public gatherings, tired and weak mother turtles – who come from the deep sea to lay eggs – are not able to get to the beach. As a result, the environment on the island is gradually becoming critical.
According to sources concerned, the Salvia Maru was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Kobe, Japan. It was renamed MV Bay One after the change of ownership. The ship, which left Yokohama port in Japan, reached Chittagong Port on 19 September.
Karnafuly Ship Builders applied to construct a temporary jetty at Darianagar on Marine Drive Road to operate MV Bay One. At present Karnafuly Ship Builders is operating a ship named Karnafuly Express with 600 seats on the same route.
The directive saying, "No construction can be done in the areas between the road and sea under the ongoing Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive Road Project," came from a notice issued on 16 August by the Ministry of Planning, as per the decision at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) on 6 June.
On 23 September, the 460th meeting of the Environmental Clearance Committee of the DoE decided not to give a clearance certificate to Karnafuly Ship Builders.
According to a review by the Environmental Clearance Committee of the DoE, the construction of a jetty with a capacity of 2,000 passengers would attract a large number of tourists and service providers to the area every day, which would result in massive discharges of solid waste and sewage into the area.
In addition, there is a risk of oil spill contamination in the water – which can destroy the biodiversity and habitats of animals and plants – as a result of the large-scale shipping on the long sea route.
On 1 October, The Business Standard published a report titled "Karnafuly trying to launch 3,000-seat luxury ship on Cox's Bazar-St Martin's route."