15 percent of Sunderbans may be submerged by 2020

July 13th, 2010 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, July 13 (IANS) At least 15 percent of the Sunderbans - the world’s largest mangrove forests - will be submerged by 2020 and neglecting the area further can have global implications as it is highly vulnerable to climate change, says a UNDP report.
The District Human Development Report (DHDR) of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Uttar Dinajpur, was released Monday in partnership with the West Bengal government’s development and planning department and the Planning Commission.

“Sunderbans in South 24 Parganas is highly vulnerable to climate change and it is estimated that 15 percent of the region will be submerged by 2020,” says the report. “Neglecting the Sunderbans can have global implications.”

The report found that the Sunderbans region in the South 24 Parganas district was the worst performing in terms of human development indicators among all the other regions of the district.

The report said the island blocks of Basanti, Gosaba, Kultali, Patharpratima and Sagar need special attention as they are vulnerable to natural disaster. Livelihood opportunities are very less in most of the islands due to poor infrastructure.

“Action at the local-level is critical if national development and the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved,” said Fadzai Gwaradzimba, chief, South and West Asia Division, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP.

Nirupam Sen, West Bengal minister of development and planning, said: “It is hoped that the DHDR will serve as a primary document for building a district vision and for assessing and re-addressing disparities within the district.”

The Sundarbans is the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world and is a World Heritage Site. The Sundarbans is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mud flats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests. The area is known as the abode of the Royal Bengal Tigers.

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