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Ghoramara Island (India), Lohachara Island (India), Bedford Island (India), and New Moore(India) are tiny islands located in the Sunderbans area. While New Moore and Bedford Island were uninhabitated, Lohachara was an inhabited island where more than 6,000 people used to live. Ghoramara is also inhabited.

Ghoramara, Lohachara, and Bedford Islands. Image source: http://ummoa.net Ghoramara, Lohachara, and Bedford Islands. Image source: http://ummoa.net

The  islands  Lohachara, Bedford, and New Moore  lying  to  the southwest  of  Ghoramara  have  already been  submerged and  Ghoramara is slowly being engulfed by the sea.

Ghoramara Island. Image source: www.matadornetwork.com Ghoramara Island. Image source: http://www.matadornetwork.com

Dr Sugarto Hazra, an oceanographer at the University of Calcutta says there is more than one cause of the problem.

“Cutting down the mangrove that used to cover the island, to make way for farming, destroyed the ecology. The mangrove used to bind the topsoil in position. Now it is being washed away. The farmers also used to dig wells to get fresh water for irrigating their paddies. But in time,  underground reservoirs emptied and then collapsed.  Added to all that, the sea level is rising around here, as it is everywhere in response to global warming. So the land is subsiding and at the same time the sea is advancing.”

Since these islands are part of a river delta, geomorphological changes, lack of proper dredging undertaken by the  Kolkata Port Trust,  subsidence have also been attributed as a cause for coastal erosion. The threat of rising sea levels may partly also be due to climate change. A villager from Ghoramara Island walks through the abandoned patches where many houses used to exist. Source: http://petercaton.co.uk A villager from Ghoramara Island walks through the abandoned patches where many houses used to exist. Source: http://petercaton.co.uk

The fact is that due to coastal destruction  a significant area of agricultural land and coastal stretches for fish drying have been lost rendering thousands of people homeless as ‘environmental refugees.’

Irrespective of the reason behind the sinking of these islands, one cannot underestimate the effects of human activities. How many of us can understand the correlation between environmental degradation and human sustenance?

Further reading:

Morphological Change Study of Ghoramara Island using Multi-temporal Satellite Data.

Application of a ‘bio-engineering’ technique to protect Ghoramara island from severe erosion.

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