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Climate change can drown our islands

We all know India is vulnerable to climate change. This becomes even more apparent when you look at our own island union territories, like Lakshadweep.

india Updated: Jan 31, 2010 23:11 IST
Bharti Chaturvedi

We all know India is vulnerable to climate change. This becomes even more apparent when you look at our own island union territories, like Lakshadweep. Comprising 12 small islands and about 70,000 residents, Lakshadweep is one of the least discussed parts of India in the climate debate. While we know about the potential loss of coastal lands and farmlands, we forget these islands and that their small size makes it even likelier that they will be drowned out as sea levels rise.

Most of the residents are fishermen, or employed in the sparse tourist economy or even, part of the administration. A few run coconut groves. What happens when these islands cease to exist? Some small island states- the term for countries that are geographically an island-across the world have already made plans to relocate. Some, like the Maldives, are scouting for land in other countries. India is clearly not one of the 39 self identified ones, which range from Jamaica to Cuba.

Yet, our double vulnerability re-enforces the need for the world to see India, with it’s high growth rate, not as a polluter but as a victim twice over.

As a large land mass and as a bunch of islands that could vanish in a blink. Our negotiators have to focus the world’ attention not only on the future of residents of the subcontinent but also, citizens who live in the India around it.

Resorts That Care

Lakshadweep is so fragile that ecotourism flourishes as a necessity. In the popular Bangaram island, the government run Lakshadweep Sports runs only a few rooms, but, delightfully, these depend entirely on solar energy. Recently fitted air-conditioning, ironically, draws energy from solar panels, while rain water harvesting is part of life. Essential.

A private resort, CGH Earth, next door, segregates all its waste and ships dry waste to recyclers in Mangalore. Bio-reactors are expected to use up the wet waste and waste collection drives are the norm. It’s a lesson for every resort across India.