As climate change continues to impact socio-economic life of people in the Sunderbans, researchers have called for ensuring supply of fresh sweet water to the island along with other adaptation strategies for saving the mangrove tress, people and the unique biodiversity of the region.
A study “The Sunderbans, impact of climate change on people’s livelihood: options for adaptation” — the result of a joint effort School of Oceanography Studies, Jadavpur University and Caritas India, a non government organisation — released on Saturday suggests “ linking of canals to areas outside Sunderbans to ensure inflow of sweet water in the interior connected regions.” Experts, who were present at the release of the study, also stressed on the need of providing vocational training to the youth in Sunderbans that would help them sustain as climate change will eventually impact traditional livelihoods like farming and fishing.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Professor Sugata Hazra said that unless “we are able to save rivers and ensure fresh water supply to the areas of Sunderbans, it is difficult to save the people and the ecosystem from the effects of climate changes.”
The key research outcomes of the report included a recommendation on diversion of water of river Hooghly through lock gates at Kulpi and Karanjali to benefit five or six blocks.
6 blocks “vulnerable”
One of the key findings of the report is that six of 19 blocks in the Sunderbans archipelago “are highly vulnerable from the perspective of fresh water availability” and that blocks with limited access to fresh water have lower percentage of agricultural land under second crop.
On the necessary adaptation in agriculture the reports recommends “crop diversification,” establishing soil-testing facilities at block level and advice to farmers on ecosystem specific crop selection. The study also presents case-studies of farmers from the Sunderbans having adopted the integrated land and water resource model in the wake of challenges related to monoculture and crop failure. Participating in the discussion over the launch of the study, West Bengal Minister for Sunderbans Affairs Manturam Pakhira expressed concern that experts were warning that a portion of Sunderbans would go under water in the next few years. An estimation of composite vulnerability of the islands of Sunderbans points out that Mousani and Ghoramara islands are highly vulnerable to climate change, the report states.
One recommendation is diversion of the Hooghly to benefit 5 or 6 blocks in Sunderbans
Experts are warning that a portion of Sunderbans will go under water in the next few years