‘More fresh water needed to save Sunderbans ecosystem’

The present flow of fresh water in the Sunderbans is insufficient to maintain its unique ecosystem, with additional supply required to save the archipelago from degradation, a study by Jadavpur University’s School of Oceanographic Studies (SOS) and IIT Roorkee have revealed.

The study is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘Ecosystem For Life: a Bangladesh-India Initiative’ in which researchers from both the countries have collaborated. “The pilot study indicates that the present level of flow is insufficient to maintain the ecosystems and ecosystem services in Sunderban even at the present level. We need more water in the lean period,” SOS director Sugata Hazra told The Hindu on Saturday. Sunderbans, he added, needs 507 cubic metres per second (cumec) of fresh water and the Hooghly 1200 cumec.

Sunderbans, a UNESCO world heritage site with over 300 species of plants 600 species of wildlife, is the home of Royal Bengal tigers. It is spread over West Bengal and Bangladesh and has 8 million inhabitants.

The study was carried out in two spots in the archipelago: Swarupganj on the Hooghly and Majdia on the trans-boundary Ichamati river, and studied four indicators: the Gangetic dolphins, Sundari trees, Hilsa migration and navigation. Over the past few years, Sundari trees, from which Sunderbans derives its name, have dwindled in numbers while the number of salinity-tolerant Avicennia sp has gone up; sightings of dolphins too have decreased.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 6:16:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/more-fresh-water-needed-to-save-sunderbans-ecosystem/article6625397.ece

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