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Tag: environmental disaster

Who speaks for the Sundarbans?

The 2015 UNEP Champion Of The Earth‬ (Policy Leadership) award has gone to Bangladesh‘s PM Sheikh Hasina.

With a population of 140 million, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most populated countries. It is also one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Cyclones, floods and droughts have long been part of the country’s history but they have intensified in recent years. Her vision is to turn Bangladesh into a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041 through implementing environmentally aware policies.

The Bangladesh Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan of 2009 made Bangladesh the first developing country to frame such a coordinated action plan. Bangladesh is also the first country to set up its own Climate Change Trust Fund supported by nearly US$300 million of domestic resources from 2009-2012.

Her government earmarks 6-7 per cent of its annual budget on climate change adaptation.

In addition, the Bangladesh Constitution was amended in 2011 to include protection of the environment and safeguarding natural resources for current and future generations. Prioritized in the constitution along with wetlands and wildlife, the forestry policies initiative by Prime Minister Hasina has provided a natural barrier from some extreme weather events and the country’s forests cover has increased by almost 10 per cent.

Here’s the irony.

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Feeling the pinch

The mighty Brahmaputra river spans a whopping 7 km at Dibrugarh, Upper Assam, India. A writhing pile of fat water and sand snakes that wanders and meanders, protean, amorphous, and willful.  The only way to cross this river is by jumping on a ferry and hoping it makes it across, escaping shoals lurking just under the muddy surface. Jeeps, cars, motorcycles, chickens, goats, people, they all jump on the hourly ferry that runs south bank to north bank. Reaching the ferry dock is not trivial either. The road is a dustbowl, also protean, hostage to the whims of the wandering river.

A bridge across the Brahmaputra would be a boon to all, if executed correctly.

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