Shrinking of West Bengal island is a serious threat: governor

February 25th, 2009 - 11:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Sunderbans (West Bengal), Feb 25 (IANS) West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi Wednesday said the shrinking of the Ghoramara Island due to rising sea levels posed a threat not just to India, but to the world as well.
“The accelerated shrinking of the Ghoramara due to the advancing sea is a threat not just for the island or the state or India, but the world,” Gandhi said at the premiere of a documentary film here on the lives of climate change victims.

Ghoramara Island is located in the Sunderbans, the delta region of the Bay of Bengal, about 150 km south of Kolkata.

“Over the past 25 years, the island has been eaten away by the sea - from nine square kilometres, it has been whittled down by almost 50 percent to just about 4.7 sq km. If this continues, then very soon the island will disappear totally,” Gandhi said.

“The sea level is rising at an alarming rate due to global warming across the world. Besides, there is accelerated soil erosion. Looking at the condition of Ghoramara, I feel its high time all countries curbed carbon emissions,” he added.

Gandhi added that world should take lessons from Ghoramara islanders on ways to handle pollution.

“Ghoramara Islanders have themselves set an example for the world on how to reduce carbon emissions by using solar power. No one from foreign countries can imagine that even televisions here run on solar energy,” the governor said.

A 59-minute documentary film produced by New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shot on the climate change victims was also released on the occasion.

“The process of climate change is accelerating. Through this film, we have tried to show how that is forcibly accelerating the lifestyle change among the climate-victims,” CSE director Sunita Narain told reporters.

The film highlighted that Ghoramara’s neighbouring island Lohachara had disappeared under water 18 years ago.

Over the last 30 years, more than 7,000 people have been forced to move out of their homes on the island. Some shifted to the nearby Sagar Island, while others moved to Kolkata.

Said Kavita, an islander: “My maternal uncle’s house has gone into the water. He had to leave the island. The banks are eroding fast… we ourselves had to construct our mud house thrice. Every time the banks erode due to high tides, we have to move backwards and build a new house. Each mud house costs around Rs.4,000-5,000.”

Narain said she would showcase the film in different platforms across the world.

“We intend to put the film at the centrestage and shake the world and tell them ‘Do something’. The voice of these islanders has to be the voice of the conscience of the richest and most powerful nations,” she said.

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