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.
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.