New is­lands could solve Bangladesh land cri­sis: Ex­perts

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

DHAKA: Dozens of new is­lands have emerged from the waters around Bangladesh over the last decade, pro­vid­ing a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion to the ex­is­ten­tial threat that ris­ing sea lev­els pose to the low-ly­ing coastal na­tion.

The gov­ern­ment said Mon­day that 29 is­lands with a com­bined area of 125,370 acres (507 square kilo­me­tres) had emerged from the Bay of Ben­gal since 2007.

Ev­ery year Hi­malayan rivers carry an es­ti­mated one bil­lion tonnes of silts and de­posit them in the Bay of Ben­gal off the coast of Bangladesh, form­ing is­lands in the shal­low waters.

Many of these is­lands, known as chars in Bangladesh, are al­ready in­hab­ited and ex­perts said they could mit­i­gate the threat posed by global warm­ing.

“Ev­ery year Bangladesh has new land emerg­ing and new land be­ing de­voured by rivers and sea,” said Maminul Haque Sarker, head of the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­ment and Ge­o­graphic In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices. He said stud­ies by the Dhaka re­search cen­tre had shown a net gain of ter­ri­tory kilo­me­tres. of around 12-14 square Most of the new land is near the es­tu­ary of the Meghna river, which is the con­flu­ence of the main trib­u­taries of the two main Hi­malayan rivers of the Ganges and the Brahma­pu­tra.

One of the is­lands has con­tro­ver­sially been ear­marked as a pos­si­ble tem­po­rary base for the hun­dreds of thou­sands of Ro­hingya refugees from Myan­mar cur­rently liv­ing in squalid — mostly makeshift — camps in south­ern Bangladesh.

A re­cent World Bank study pro­jected that 40 per cent of pro­duc­tive land in south­ern Bangladesh would be sub­merged by the year 2080 due to a rise in sea lev­els.

A decade ago the in­flu­en­tial In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change (IPCC) said a one-me­tre (three-foot) rise in sea lev­els would flood 17 per cent of Bangladesh and cre­ate 20 mil­lion refugees by 2050.

Lo­cal sci­en­tists, how­ever, crit­i­cised the study for fail­ing to take into ac­count the silt is­lands, which are highly fer­tile.

Wa­ter ex­pert Zahirul Haque Khan said dams could be set up to trap the vast amounts of sed­i­ment that flows from Bangladesh’s rivers into the sea ev­ery year.

“Bangladesh can gain hun­dreds of square kilo­me­tres of new land by trap­ping silt through cross dams and en­gi­neer­ing in­ter­ven­tions,” said Khan, di­rec­tor of In­sti­tute of Wa­ter Mod­el­ling in Dhaka.

— AFP file photo

Bangladeshi fish­er­men work­ing near a newly-formed land at Boyer Char in Bangladesh’s Noakhali district.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.