Centre asked to raise threat to Sundarbans at climate meet

Centre asked to raise threat to Sundarbans at climate meet


"Keeping in mind the forthcoming Copenhagen Summit, I hope its outcome must be based on consensus, cooperation and principal of equity. In this perspective I wish to raise the issue of the Sundarbans before you for consideration," State Environment Minister Sailen Sarkar said in a letter to his union counterpart Jairam Ramesh.

"While the world's attention is directed to the vulnerability of Los Angeles and Maldives, the Sundarbans is gradually sinking into oblivion," he said.

Sarkar said the vulnerability of sea-facing inhabited islands in the mangrove needed to be evaluated, besides construction of bridges to provide for evacuation.

Also needed was conservation of plants tolerant to higher salinity and construction of a  sea-wall using advanced technology as was done by nations like Netherlands, he said.

"This beautiful mega delta of the Sundarbans, described as one of the three most threatened deltas on earth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its fourth assessment report, is doomed to disappear because of anthropogenic climate change."

It has been observed that there was heightened cyclonic activities, increase in tidal amplitude and accelerated erosion leading to disappearance of certain islands like Ghoramara, besides frequent breaches of river embankments, Sarkar said.

Increasing salinisation was also leading to diminished agricultural production, he said.
"More importantly this is the home to 43 lakh Indian citizens who inhabit 52 non-forest islands," he said.

He pointed out that the Sundarbans was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a biosphere reserve, the biggest mangrove tiger habitat and comprised 104 odd islands covering an area of 3,500 sq km.

Ramesh in his reply said that he would certainly like a national initiative for protection and long-term ecological sustainability of the Sunderbans.

Ramesh said "Give me a couple of days and I will get back to you on how we intend to proceed further."

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