Nature India is humbled to be the recipient of the South Asia Climate Change Media Excellence Award 2012-13 for its coverage of climate change issues, including that in the Sundarban delta of the Bay of Bengal. A series of articles and blog pieces from Nature India’s coverage of climate change were collectively chosen for the award by Panos South Asia, headquartered in Kathmandu, Nepal and part of Panos Institutes worldwide that encourage and facilitate public discourse and debate on a wide range of issues including environmental issues. Nature India‘s reportage will be honoured at the awards night of the CMS Vatavaran Film Festival on January 30, 2014 in New Delhi.
The recognition bolsters Nature India‘s spirit of bringing its readers the best coverage of Indian science.
Please register free on Nature India to read the full articles. Here is an excerpt of one of the award winning articles:
Will the climate ever change for Sundarbans?
Seven years after the first report on the ‘vanishing islands‘ of Sundarbans, Subhra Priyadarshini revisits the fragile delta in the Bay of Bengal to find that it is not just climate change that threatens the existence of this world heritage mangrove tiger-land spread across the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The seas are rising around the Sundarbans. That is old news.
Two islands in this 100-odd island conglomerate have vanished from the face of earth. Even that is old news, met with a stoic shake of the head by environment refugees who now inhabit Sagar, the biggest island in west Sundarbans. For them ‘climate change’ is just another phrase that NGOs and people from the media use to describe everything that is wrong with their lives.
In their life full of challenges, the loudest alarm bells ring before every monsoon — of the fury that the sea is about to unleash between September and November. Severe cyclones — four of which have visited the Sundarbans between 2007 and 2009 — are gulping in more and more land every year. The world’s only mangrove tiger-land is now a constantly shrinking landmass, its existence threatened by severe cyclonic storms, unmanageable demographics, rising seas, coastal flooding and erosion.
Though just a bit of this fear is reflected in government figures, it is clearly evident in Shamila’s voice. “The fury of the sea now is like never before,” she says standing right where she stood seven years back outside her hut in one of the many refugee colonies dotting Sagar. Shamila has grown from a shy teenager into a confident mother of two and knows where to flee if the going gets tough. “We will go to Kolkata and do something there,” she says talking of her secret dream to settle in the burgeoning megapolis, capital of West Bengal, where “you get beautiful saris”.
Shamila’s father Sheikh Abdullah did something similar in the late 1990s when he left the sinking island of Lohachara in the vicinity, along with 7000 other refugees from various islands, and sought shelter in Sagar. Lohachara does not exist on the map anymore along with another island Bedford, which never had any human habitation.
Scientists estimate that Sagar will be the worst hit in future with over 30,000 people displaced by 2020 even as neighbouring Namkhana produces 15,000 more refugees. The other islands, all in the western end of the estuarine delta, predicted to face similar fates are Ajmalmari (east and west), Dalhousie, Dakshin Surendra Nagar, Moushuni, Lothian, Ghoramara, Dulibhasani, Dhanchi, Bulchery, Bhangaduani and Jambudwip.
According to estimates, between 2001 and 2010, the net loss of land to the seas across the Indian Sundarbans stands at 63 square kilometre. About 1.35 million people are currently at high risk from sea level rise, storm surges and coastal flooding, with another 2.4 million people exposed to moderate risk.
Read the rest of the article here.