martes, 16 de septiembre de 2008

Global warming creating ‘environmental refugees’

Global warming and consequent rise in the sea level is posing a threat to the population, turning them into ‘environmental refugees,’ in the Sunderbans, the largest delta region in the world.
Ocean scientists say the islands of Lohachara and Suparibhanga have been submerged . Erosion and submergence have been taking place in 12 sea-facing southern islands of the Sunderbans, putting at risk the lives of thousands of people and wildlife.
A research team led by Professor Sugata Hazra, Director, School of Oceanographic Studies in the Jadavpur University, Kolkata, has found that 82 sq km land has been inundated over the past three decades.
The more the sea rises fed by melting ice, the greater the erosion in the estuarine islands, Professor Hazra says. He estimates that 70,000 people, out of the 4.1 million people living in the islands, would be rendered homeless by 2020 from the Indian part of the Sunderbans.
He has demanded an international provision for the displaced people, whom he terms as ‘environmental refugees.’ Most of the displaced people from the two submerged and six shrinking islands have been heading for Pathar Pratima island and Sagar Island where pilgrims from all over the country gather at the Kapilmuni Temple in winter.
People in the islands of Ghoramara, Dublat GP of Sagar Island, G-Plot and Mousuni are extremely vulnerable, Professor Hazra says. The rate of sea level rise is currently approaching 3.14 mm per year near Sagar Island and this could increase to 3.5 mm in the next few years due to global warming.
“The rate is higher in the Bangladesh part of the Sunderbans due to higher rate of deltaic subsidence,” he says.
Displaced people from the islands allege the land given to them is insufficient.
Subhas Chandra Acharya, Joint Director of Sunderban Development Board, says that initially 6 bighas of land per family from Lohachara island were given to settle in Bankimnagar village, but later it was dropped to 1.5 bigha.

Taken from The Hindu

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