West Bengal

Environmental loss in Sundarbans worth Rs. 1290 Crore: World Bank Report

As per World Bank’s recently released report Building Resilience for Sustainable Development of the Sundarbans, environmental damage in the climate change-hit islands of Sundarbans is costing India Rs. 1,290 crore each year.

This report was jointly prepared by World Bank in collaboration with the West Bengal government.

Key facts of report

  • Losses- Annually the cost of environmental damage associated with ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss is about Rs. 670 crore. While, the cost of health effects due to poor environment is estimated at Rs. 620 crore.
  • Factors- The losses are due to combination of factors associated with unsustainable and inefficient economic activities in Sundarbans.
  • These factors include mangrove destruction, impact of cyclones, reduced agricultural yields and unsustainable fisheries as well as destruction of ecosystem services.
  • Cyclones- Damage costs from cyclones are the highest and accounts for damages worth Rs. 290 crore. It also includes damages to houses, agriculture, human injuries and fatalities.
  • Health issues- Due to environmental degradation, villagers in Sundarbans are suffering from poor health outcomes. This degradation is generally in the form of adverse natural events, such as cyclones and storms and increases in soil salinity.
  • These risk factors contribute considerably to mortality and morbidity, particularly among women and children.
  • Other losses- Climate change along with the sea level rise also has resulted in shrimp losses, carbon sequestration losses associated with degradation of mangrove forest, soil salinity in terms of impact on rice yields, loss of biodiversity and agricultural land losses.

About Sundarbans

Sundarbans is an archipelago of 54 islands and is home to about 44 lakh people. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In recent times it is hit hard by an increase in floods, storms, salinity and erosion caused by rising sea-levels and global warming.

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Kolkata becomes India’s first Wi-Fi-enabled metro city

Kolkata has become India’s first Wi-Fi-enabled metro city as the service was launched from Park Street in city.

This 4th Generation (4G) free Wi-fi service was launched by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Free Wi-fi service will be will be rolled out in phased manner in all the wards under Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) as well as adjacent areas of Kolkata. The whole city is expected to come under Wi-Fi coverage by mid-April in 2015.

Private telecom operator, Reliance Jio is providing the 4G enabled service Wi-fi s in the city.

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Government bans Kamatapur Liberation Organisation

Central Government has banned Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which operates in West Bengal and Assam. An official gazette notification of Union Home Ministry mentioned that under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, it has proposed to add KLO and all its formation and front organisations as a terrorist organisation.  With this notification, KLO is listed in the First Schedule of Act and has joined other 37 militant organizations.

About Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO)

KLO came into existence in 1993 to achieve the objective of a separate sovereign Kamatapur state.

It has been consolidating its position in the 14 districts in Assam and 6 districts in West Bengal both organisationally and in terms of weapons and cadres.

Reasons for formation

It was formed to address problems of the Koch Rajbongshi community and perceived neglect of Kamtapuri language, large-scale unemployment, land alienation, identity and grievances of economic deprivation of the community.

Demand

The group has emerged as a major threat and is demanding an independent county Sovereign Kamatapur State of ten districts in West Bengal and Assam. The 10 districts demanded by them includes six districts of North Bengal namely Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Malda and four of lower Assam, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Dhubri and Goalpara.

It is alleged that the KLO is having links with other North-east militant groups such ULFA and National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

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