Rise in sea level threatening Sundarbans, says Pachauri

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on January 06, 2013

Dykes, an answer to protecting the ecology

The rise in sea levels around the Sundarbans delta – the world’s largest mangrove forest spread across India and Bangladesh — is a cause of concern, said R. K. Pachauri, Director-General of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute).

“We have to be worried about the rise in sea levels in Sundarbans,” Pachauri told newspersons on the sidelines of a session organised by the Indian Science Congress here on Sunday.

Researchers of the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, estimate that sea levels rose from 3.14 millimetres annually (recorded until the year 2,000) to about 8 mm by 2010.

The delta consists of 102 low-lying islands of which 48 are inhabited.

Nearly four million people in the Sundarbans coexist with 26 species of true mangroves, 234 species of birds and 47 species of mammals, including the Royal Bengal tiger.

Climate change

Experts point out that the islands and its ecosystem, including the community, are severely stressed over availability of natural resources and are highly vulnerable to changes in climate.

Climate change is leading to increased salinity and higher tidal surges, permanent submergence of land masses, experts note.

Reports suggest that in the past two decades, four islands (Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga) have been submerged with 6,000 families being rendered homeless.

This apart, scientists from the University of Calcutta and Jadavpur University have predicted that one of the largest islands (Sagar islands) will lose at least 15 per cent of its habitat area by 2020.

Pachauri highlighted the need to strengthen mangrove plantations in the region to help address the issues.

According to him, dykes need to be set up at Sundarbans. Dykes are natural or artificial slopes or walls to regulate water levels.

“It is one of the most important things for maintaining biodiversity. This (setting up of dykes) model is pretty successful in the Netherlands,” he said.

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Published on January 06, 2013
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