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Sinking Ghoramara needs international help

Margaret Williams  |  Ghoramara (Sundarbans) 

Located almost 150 kilometres to the south of Kolkata in the Delta region of the Bay of Bengal, the small sinking island village of Ghoramara is in need of greater attention not only from the government and non-governmental organization but the international community and global policy makers to save its existence, claimed Governor of West Bengal.

Speaking on the occasion of the global premier of the special documentary prepared by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Gopal Krishna Gandhi, governor of West Bengal said, “The island of Ghoramara is not only a living example of the global problem of climate change and global warming but is also a solution to this problem.The problem of global warming and rising sea level is not only India’s problem, but the whole world’s problem which needs to be addressed jointly and not in isolation.”

“The role of climate change mitigation should be developed by a combination of environmentalist, government, state entitities and the victims of the catastrophe. Climate change is an important issue and so are the helpless victims of the climate change whose voices need to be taken to the world at large,|” said the governor.

He visited the entire village and reassured villagers promising them that something will be done and Ghoramara and other neighboring islands will be saved from further devastation. Over the last 25 years, Ghoramara’s land mass has been halved from nine square kilometers to just about 4.7 square km, because of the rising sea level, which in this part of the country is higher than the global average.

“Whereas across the globe in all coastal areas the average sea level increase in 2.2 mm per year, in this part of the country it is almost 3.12 mm per year which is a cause for concern, according to climate specialists the sea level is expected to rise by 22-35 mm by the end of the century, by when these small islands will be completely submerged if action is not taken,” said Sunita Narain, director, CSE on the sidelines of the global premier of CSE’s documentary produced, The Mean Sea level.

Although the island, at present, has 5,000-odd residents, more than 7,000 residents have been forced to move out to other islands, sometimes with or without any rehabilitation assistance, informed Pradip Saha, associate director. This island too might very soon be wiped out of the map as it happened with its neighboring island of Lohachara, entirely submerged under the sea now, he added.

“The issue of climate change is real and urgent, land erosion and rehabilitation had been a constant affair, but the process of of depetion of land has accelerated over the years, which is a cause for concern now when so many lives are at risk. It is time India takes adequate measures and strong and proactive leadership role in climate change issues and take these voices outside to the global platform, inside the doors of the global climate policy makers, especially in the developed countries who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, but have failed to reduce the global carbon footprint.” she added.

There was a need for an integrated clear cut research program than simple anecdotes and need to deliver data on real time basis to solve the problem, it was thus important to take the voices of the victims to places it had not affected and make the developed countries aware, Narain also mentioned.

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First Published: Wed, February 25 2009. 21:49 IST