Kolkata, Feb 22: Environmental damage in the climate change-hit islands of Sundarbans is costing India Rs 1,290 crore each year, estimates a latest World Bank report. The cost of environmental damage associated with ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss is about Rs 6.7 billion (Rs 670 crore) annually, while the cost of health effects due to poor environment is estimated at Rs 6.2 billion (Rs 620 crore), it says. The total figure of Rs 1,290 crore is about ten per cent of Sundarbans GDP in 2009. (Five must visit weekend breaks around Kolkata)
Released here recently, the report ‘Building Resilience for Sustainable Development of the Sundarbans’ is prepared by the World Bank in collaboration with the West Bengal government. “The losses stem from a combination of factors associated with unsustainable and inefficient economic activities ? for example, mangrove destruction, impact of cyclones, reduced agricultural yields and unsustainable fisheries ? as well as destruction of ecosystem services,” the report says.
Sundarbans is an archipelago of 54 islands and is home to about 44 lakh people. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is hit hard by an increase in floods, storms, salinity and erosion caused by rising sea-levels and global warming. Damage costs from cyclones were found to be the highest in the research at Rs 2.9 billion and include damages to houses, agriculture, human injuries and fatalities. UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects an increase in sea level and intensification of present climatic variability