Violations of coastal safety norms leading to species loss in Bengal

Kolkata, Nov 19 (IANS): West Bengal might be adversely impacted in a number of ways in the coming days because of climate change. However, of all the effects of climate change on the state, the two most serious will be the impact on the coastlines and the loss of species.

These are some of the findings in the 6th assessment report presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

According to Dr Anjal Prakash, research director with the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business and also one of the writers of the assessment paper, considering that West Bengal has a massive coastline, the rising sea levels due to climate change could lead to coastal erosion in a big way.

“This could have significant implications for communities living along the coast, as well as for infrastructure and the economy there,” he added.

His observations on coastline erosion have been supplemented in the findings of the assessment report which said that at 63 per cent, West Bengal recorded maximum coastline erosion among all coastal Indian states between 1990 and 2016.

Climatologists like Joyashree Roy and environmental activists like SM Ghosh say that instead of realizing the danger of coastline erosion because of climate change, certain groups having vested interest in the coastal areas of the state are adding to the looming danger on this count in connivance with a section within the administration.

According to them, arbitrary real-estate development flouting all norms had been a major contributing factor adding to the crisis of coastal erosion.

The fact that rampant and arbitrary tourism-related real estate activities had been hampering the natural ecological ambience in the coastal areas of West Bengal was observed in a recent verdict by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), which ordered the immediate demolition of a private resort at Dulki Village under Gosaba, one of the main deltaic islands in the Sundarbans region in South 24 Parganas.

While passing that order, the NGT observed that the said resort built in the critically-vulnerable coastal area was constructed by clearly violating the prescribed norms under the coastal regulation zone notification on this count.

“The Dulki incident is not a one-off case and throughout the coastal belts of West Bengal, especially those having tourist appeal, such violations are quite rampant. Unfortunately, the sufferers are not those who are actually adding to this danger of coastline erosion. The sufferers are those residing in the coastal areas and are dependent on the coast for their livelihood,” Ghosh said.

Climatologists and environment scientists say that another impact of climate change in West Bengal will be on public health and on agriculture production, considering the change in precipitation patterns in the state during the last few years where prolonged dry-heat spells have replaced the humidity factor.

The prolonged heat waves, according to climatologists, might pose health risks for vulnerable sections of the population.

As regards to the impact on agriculture products, that will be because of the non-conventional rainfall witnessed during the last couple of years in the state, where first there was a rainfall deficit during the peak seasons of Aman and Aus paddy production in June and July and then there was excess of autumnal rain in September and October when the sowed crops were ready to bear seeds.

Climatologists are apprehensive that since West Bengal is highly dependent on rainfall for farming activities, the changes in the precipitation patterns might lead to water scarcity during the peak farming seasons, which could have significant implications for farming, which is a major source of livelihood for many people in the state. Non-conventional rains will further add to the problem.

Economists are of the opinion that the impact of these vagaries of nature impacting paddy production could be felt in two ways, the first being an inevitable increase in the price of rice in the open market and the second being the negative impact on the livelihood of the sharecroppers



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Title: Violations of coastal safety norms leading to species loss in Bengal

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