Over 2,000 families affected, acres of farm land submerged
Large parts of Mousuni, a sinking island in the Sunderbans archipelago, have been submerged with tides rising because of the spring equinox. “More than 2,000 families have been affected and hundreds of acres of agricultural land and several fisheries have been destroyed by the high tides,” Sheikh Ilias, panchayat pradhan of Mousuni told The Hindu on Tuesday. Ilias said that he himself was standing in knee-deep water. Mousuni, one of the 52 inhabited islands of the archipelago, and a vulnerable climate change hotspot, is sinking at a rapid pace. The island with a population of over 20,000 lies in the estuarine system and is open to the sea, said Tuhin Ghosh of the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University. “As the sea level continues to rise, flooding will become a regular phenomenon,” Dr Ghosh said.
The 24-sq km island is the second most vulnerable island of the Sunderbans, next to Ghoramara island, whose population is about 5,000. The panchayat pradhan claimed that damage to the island and the impact on the people is far more than it was during super cyclone Aila, which hit the Sunderbans in May 2009. “The embankments here have not been repaired since they were breached by Aila. About nine km of embankments has to repaired to prevent seawater flooding. The western part of the island is vulnerable to tides and regular flooding occurs, but this time the situation is grave,” said Ilias. He said the State government had provided foodgrains, but supply is not proportionate to the number of people affected. A UNDP report published in 2010 said that 15 per cent of the delta will be submerged by 2020.