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The Sundarbans Area Review

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The Sundarbans Area Review essay
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From the last decades, the world is becoming more dependent on power. Those who ensuring the production and uses of power more successfully are becoming developed rapidly. As a digital country Bangladesh is trying to keep pace with the rest of the world. To overcome the shortage of electricity, The Bangladesh government had decided to establish a 1,320-megawatt coalfired power plant at the mouth of the Sundarbans under Rampal upazila of Bagerhat beside the Poshur River. The government had also taken an initiative to dredge 10 kilometers of the Poshur River to allow easy access of Indian ships carrying coal for the plant. The Bangladesh government signed a joint venture agreement with India’s state-run electricity generation company on January 29th 2012 to implement this project. The government had acquired 1,834 acres of agriculture land in Satmari Katakhali and Koigordashkathi areas of Lubachhora under Rampal upazila to establish the power plant. Though literally it will produce electricity for our betterment,but it has a great effect on environment.

The Sundarban is spread into Bangladesh and India,but freshwater reaching the mangroves has been considerably reduced since the 1970s due to diversion of freshwater in the upstream area by India through the use of the Farakka Barrage bordering Rajshahi, Bangladesh. Rivers in the Sundarban are meeting places of saltwater and freshwater. Thus,it is a region of transition between the freshwater of the rivers originating from the Ganges and the saline water of the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarban reserve forest is intersected by an elaborate network of rivers, channels and creeks with varying width and length and occupies an area of 18,741 km2. Depending upon the manner in which the tidal wave propagates through the major rivers systems, the rivers in the sundarbans are classified in three different series Raimangal-Sibsa series, Passur-Sibsa series and Passur-Baleswar series. From east to west the river systems also comprise four estuaries viz., Bangra estuary, Kunga estuary, Malancha estuary and Raimangal estuary. The power plant’s proposed location is on the bank of Passur River, which is one of the only two rivers that bring fresh water to the Sundarbans. Any change in Passur River’s quality might be extremely harmful for the entire ecosystem. The Government had acquired 1,834 acres of agriculture land in SatmariKatakhali and Koigordashkathi areas of Lubachhora under Rampal upazila to establish the power plant. Only 86 acres lands are kash land and rest of the lands are public lands which are using for rice and fish cultivations by the land owners. The government had also taken an initiative to dredge 10 kilometers of the Poshur river to allow easy access of Indian ships carrying coal for the plant. Due to an inadequate supply of local coal, the operator suggests to use imported coal – presumably of Indian origin considering the low price of coal and transportation cost. The Bangladesh government has decided to bring in coal through the Mongla sea port. India’s National Thermal Power Company and Bangladesh Power Development Board are the two signatories of the project…

The Sundarbans area is occupied by recent alluvium laid down by the Ganga and its tributaries. The top saline water bearing aquifers are generally separated from the underlying fresh water group of aquifers by a thick impermeable clay layer. The fresh ground water occurs under confined condition, where piezometric surfaces lie between 0.50-2.00 m below msl and hydraulic gradient tends towards sea. Water level trends reflect a downward in nature. Studies confirmed that the water quality of Sundarbans coastal area on average is deteriorating continuously. There are numerous causes including increasing numbers of industries in the neighboring region, uncontrolled deforestation, and global climate change, which are responsible for deteriorating thewater quality of this large and diverse forest. In natural systems, water always flows from upstream to downstream and it is very important to maintain this flow in order to retain a good ecological balance. The main reasons for the shortage of fresh water flow in the rivers are diversion (building Farakka barrage) of upstream water by the neighboring country, India, lacking of proper dazing of the rivers beds, and planning of unwanted structures on the bank of the rivers. The adverse impact of industrialization is reflected by the value obtained for the various water quality parameters in this study. There are large quantities of untreated sewage present in the Khulna and Bagherhatmunicipalities, which are responsible for contributing pollution to the Bhairab-Rupsha-Passur river system. As the Sundarbans area spread over in both Bangladesh and India, the policy planners of both countries should come forward with urgent strategies to protect this mangrove forest from the impending danger of severe pollution.

The ground water and that of the Poshur would also be polluted by the huge amount of waste produced due to burning of the coal. Whereas the existence of strict laws to protect the environment and the wildlife, the government has recently decided to declare a part of Poshur and Andharmanik rivers sanctuaries for dolphins. The liquid waste or sludge contains hazardous arsenic, mercury, cadmium and chromium. These toxic substances can contaminate drinking water supplies and damage vital organs and the nervous system of people living around the place and the natural resources of the Sundarbans.

The fisheries resources of the study area are rich and diversified with mainly brackish water to minor fresh water fish habitats. The area has a close connection with mangrove forest providing support to a number of marine and fresh water fishes. The network of river systems of this region connects the fresh water fish habitats with the brackish water habitats and maintains biological balance of the major fish groups. The estimated total fish production of the study area is about 5218.66 M.ton, which comes from both capture fisheries (565.66 M. ton) and culture fisheries (4653. M.ton). On the other hand, the estimated total fish production from the project area (project boundary) is about 569.41 M.ton (capture 4.79 M.ton & culture 564.62 M.ton).Acquired land includes shrimp aquaculture farm, mangrove, intertidal area, and tidal creeks which are used as, fish habitat. Acquisition of these lands might cause loss of these habitats. Open water fisheries habitats like rivers (Passur,Maidara), khals and inter-tidal area may be affected due to dredging, traffic movements, and oil and chemical spilling. Dredging activities may also alter the habitat of the bottom feeder fish for short period.

As debates heat up, it became clear the Rampal project will have far-reaching impacts on the Sundarbans. Even if much of what the project authorities say holds true, the impact will still be there, will accumulate over years and cause some irreversible changes to the forest ecosystem. The effect cannot be felt in a few years, but over a longer time span, the worse will come. We have not even measured ecosystem services from the forest – all the benefits, which most of us take for granted, we get from the animals and plants. The forest is essential not just for the sake of beauty or biodiversity but also for sustainable livelihood of the people. Industrialisation is a sure way to improve life but not often sustainably. Some places in the world are not for industrialization but for other kinds of use like ecotourism. The Sundarbans is one such place where industrialization is an assuredly suicidal way of development.

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