'Rising ocean level may wipe out Maldives'

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Male, Nov 12: The rising of ocean levels due to global warming may pose a serious threat to the very existence of Maldives in the future but the tiny island nation is not yet thinking of buying a new 'homeland' on Indian soil.

With large parts of its landmass expected to be swallowed up by the Indian Ocean, the Maldives goverment is considering the option of buying land in a neighbouring, preferrably culturally similar country to resettle its citizens. But, as of now, India is not an option. ''President Mohammed Nashid has just come to power. He has decided to purchase land in some neighbouring country to resettle the people from the affected regions. But it is too early to say that the country will be India,'' Indian ambassador to Maldives Mr Arvind Kumar Panday told sources. Mr Nasheed's spokesman, Ibrahim Hussein Zaki, has admitted in a recent interview that global warming and environmental issues are of major concern to Maldives and the new government has to take some drastic action.

The Maldives is the lowest nation in the world. Its highest land is a little more than two metres above sea level. The United Nations estimates that sea levels may rise globally by nearly 60 centimetres this century which means that several islands of the Indian Ocean archipelago may be inundated.

Mr Nasheed's plan is to create a 'sovereign wealth fund' using tourism revenues to buy land so that future generations will have somewhere to rebuild their lives if they have to leave.

He is looking for a country somewhere within the region, where the culture is similar - possibly India or Sri Lanka.

He fears that if he does not take action, thousands of people could become environmental refugees in the futrure.


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