Sunderbans are vanishing
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Sunderbans are vanishing

The Sunderbans could soon fall off the map. Oceanographers blame this on global warming, reports Tanya Bagchi.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2006 15:59 IST

The Sunderbans could soon fall off the map. After devouring two of nearly 100 tiny islands in the delta, the rising sea is threatening to submerge 12 more islands in the next 14 years.

Oceanographers blame this on global warming and continuous coastal erosion due to frequent disruptions in the flow of water in upstream Bhagirathi. A recent study at the School of Oceanographic Studies of Jadavpur University said nearly 70,000 people would be affected in the eastern and western parts of the Sunderbans. Another worry is that this is also home to the Royal Bengal Tigers, an already endangered species.

"Over the last 30 years, thousands of people have been displaced from their original habitat in the Sunderbans. This is due to rapid coastal erosion, cyclone and coastal flooding," said professor Sugata Hazra, director of the school.

The Hindustan Times had in 2005 reported that many villages in eastern and western Sunderbans are likely to be submerged and that it would put immense pressure on the ecosystem of the tidal mangrove forests. HT also reported that the rising sea level would affect the flora and fauna of the region in the coming years.

"Previously, it was estimated that over 64,000 people would become environmental refuges but the figure is likely to rise up to 70,000 if the Central and state governments do not take necessary action," said professor Hazra.

Sunderbans lost two of its islands, Lohamara and Suparidanga, 22 years ago. The residents of these islands are now scattered in various parts of Sagar Island. The study also reveals that the Sunderbans has lost around 100 square kilometres of land in the last 30 years.

The study reveals that the most vulnerable areas are Ghoramara and Sagar Island and nearly 28,000 people will have to migrate from here.

First Published: Nov 01, 2006 15:59 IST