Environment issues in Sundarbans

Environment issues in Sundarbans

Question:-Mangrove forests are one of the most productive and bio-diverse wetlands on earth. Yet, these unique coastal tropical forests are among the most threatened habitats in the world. Explain this view with the environmental threats faced by Sundarbans.

The Sundarbans is the natural region in the state of West Bengal. It covers around 10000 sq kms out of which 60% lies in Bangladesh and the remaining in India. The Sundarban forest is the largest mangrove wetland ecosystems in the world. Sunderbans falls under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has the largest Bengal tiger reserves and a biosphere reserve. It is also selected for Ramsar Wetland area.

Factors that contribute to the environmental issues in Sundarbans

- Sea Level Rise – The rise in sea level in the core areas of Sundarbans made a worst effect on the human settlement in the nearby blocks. The rise in sea level has deprived the people of their main sources of livelihood - agriculture and fishing. A lot of agricultural land is being submerged under the water.

- Salinity – The river water salinity rate slowly increases with time and more rivers were affected by the salinity in the Sundarbans. Sundarbans mangroves spread across the Ganges Delta. The increased salinity is caused due to the scarcity of the fresh water in the Ganges fresh water. The reduction in the flow rate of Ganges river has resulted in the high saline water in upstream areas. The high salinity zone is situated in the South-Western corner of the Sundarbans.

- Climate change – Along with the temperature , precipitation is also showing an increasing trend in the Sundarban region. Variability in the climatic parameters has increased in the past few years. The warm climate would cause an increase in the cyclone speed and amount of rainfall.

- 2014 Oil Spill – Around 350 tonne of oil was spilled in the river of Sundarban on December 9, 2014. The spill occurred at a protected area of the river where the rare dolphins were present. The oil spill disturbed the aquatic life and resulted in the death of certain aquatic animals especially the dolphins. The oil spill is generating a major threat to the forest's food cycle. The primary level of the food cycle are dying to the effect of the excessive oil spill. Due to the oil spill, dolphins, saltwater crocodile, Bengal tigers, leopards, chitals are facing a severe threat.

- Cyclones – Despite Sundarbans being a cyclone prone area, there is a lack of disaster shelters. There has been an increase in the cyclonic storms hitting the Sundarbans in the past few years. During the Cyclone Aila in 2009, the waves crossed the heights of the embankment and entered the plains. Many people were affected due to the shortage of water supply and destruction of the agriculture land. A great damage was caused to the property and crops due to the cyclones.

- Pollution – Due to a heavy disposal of solid waste from the nearby cities, the Ganges river does not carry fresh water to the Sundarbans. A huge amount of domestic and industrial effluents are carried by the tributary rivers. Loads of mud disposals from the harbors also causes pollution. The emergence of Haldia Port Complex is a great f oil disembarkment in East of India.

- Man made disasters – Oil spills are one of the biggest man made disasters that affect the people as well as the environment of Sundarbans. The oil spill of 2014 which was caused by the Southern Star VII, a Bangladeshi ship created a lot of destruction especially to the aquatic life. Earlier traditional agricultural methods were practiced. But today, people are adopting the techniques of using pesticide and chemicals which are affecting the flora and fauna of the region. The dumping of various industrial and domestic waste into the river systems are also possessing a threat to the environment. There are concerns regarding the construction of 1320 megawatt coal-fired power plant near the Sundarbans.

- Fishing – The issue of over fishing has put the environment under great pressure. The stock of the fish is decreasing due to the combination of overexploitation and climatic changes. The density of the fish in shallow waters reduced tremendously. Due to the excessive demand for the prawn products, the local people dropped the traditional fishing practices and adopted the prawn seed culture.

- Wood cutting – There is an illegal increase in the cutting down of trees and woods in the Sundarbans. People living nearby the forests in the South 24 – Paraganas are directly involved in the trading of the wood. Deforestation is taking a rise in most of the areas of Sundarbans which will ultimately lead into the loss of the biodiversity.

Facts and Figures

- Sundarban mangrove wetland spreads over the Ganges delta with an average elevation of 0.9 to 2.1 meter above the mean sea level.

- The lower Ganges delta was under the water before 6000 – 7000 years.

- The highest water salinity values are found at the Malancha – Mandarbaria river in the South.

- The global sea surface temperature is 0.06 degree Celsius.

- The major oil spill in Sundarbans occurred on December 9, 2014 at the Shela river.

- Around 350 tonnes of oil was spilled by the Bangladeshi ship named Southern Star VII in 2014.

- The proposed coal-fired plant by NTPC would be situated at the Bagerhat district of south-west Bangladesh.
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  • RE: Environment issues in Sundarbans -Mya (03/07/17)
  • What is like the plants that are in danger to please show more about that
  • RE: Environment issues in Sundarbans -Sivadurga (01/05/16)
  • Really informative !!!!!!!!!