Climate change causing soil erosion in Sunderbans delta

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Sunderbans (WB), Dec 2 (ANI): Global warming and rising sea levels are submerging land in Sunderbans delta, one of the most vulnerable ecological zones in the world.

The delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal is famous for the Sunderbans mangrove forest.

The area is known for a large fauna, including 260 species of birds, the Bengal tiger, estuarine crocodile and the Indian python.

However in recent decades, two of the subsiding delta's 100 islands have already vanished and more than 6,000 families had to be rehabilitated.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that by the end of this century the sea level could rise by 0.8 metres as fallout of global warming.

For Sunderbans, this will be disastrous as studies indicate that a 0.6 metres increase in sea level could submerge the entire region.

Villagers living in the islands dotting the area are already facing the brunt of rising sea levels. Rivers breach embankments and floods have become a way of life. Saline water has ruined agriculture, mainly paddy cultivation, in the area.

Panchanand Jana, a resident of Govindopur Abad in Sunderbans, said that the cyclone Aila, which struck the delta in May, has threatened their livelihood.

"During Aila there was tremendous loss. The whole area was flooded; the entire Govindopur Mouza was flooded. River water levels came up, all ponds, canals overflowed. There was no drinking water. The entire agriculture was wrecked.

Different non-governmental organisations helped us. We are somehow surviving with great difficulty, one flood after the other," said Jana.

Tanushree Patra, who has been selected by Indraprastha Srijan Welfare Society to represent Sunderbans at the Climate Change meet beginning in Copenhagen next week, said the global climate change has hit Sunderbans hard.

" The tides have increased in number, leading to the river embankments being broken and saline water entering our lands and creating problems for agriculture. Agriculture is getting ruined totally. No hybrid paddy can be cultivated here anymore though some indigenous paddy is still growing. We are seeing that there is no heat during summer and no cold during winter, this is also damaging the crops," said Patra.

The West Bengal government has asked the Central government to raise the issue of threat to the Sunderbans at the Copenhagen Summit. (ANI)

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