Thursday, September 22, 2016

In a corner of Bengal, people are living on the edge of a rising sea - Photos by Anup Bhattacharya

For people living on the islands in the Ganga estuary, climate change is a demon they battle every day. It has already transformed their lives and livelihood. Nowhere is this clearer than in Sagar administrative block in West Bengal on the edge of the Bay of Bengal. This area is part of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove ecosystem, and one of the areas most vulnerable to climate change in India.
The Sagar block, which has a population of around 200,000, has to not only grapple with a rising sea level at a rate that is nearly 250% higher than global rate (8 mm per year compared with 3.23 mm per year, according to the school of oceanographic studies of Jadavpur University in Kolkata), but also stands exposed to increasing high intensity cyclones and storms. The rising sea has already submerged Lohachara island in Sagar block, eaten nearly three-fourths of Ghoramara island and severely affected the bigger Sagar island.

The story of Ghoramara shows that how climate change is changing the way people live – how it divides families, breaks social taboos and hastens forced migration. The largely poor people in the island (45% live below the poverty line) are under enormous socioeconomic stress that has upturned their lives. See photos: