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India,Pak meet halfway at Hungry Tide

At a time when India and Pakistan are engaged in sabre-rattling following the terror attacks in Mumbai,experts from both the countries have joined hands and waged a war against a monster that threatens to throttle life.

Written by Mohana Dam | Kolkata |
January 23, 2009 2:37:11 am

All for saving the Sunderbans

At a time when India and Pakistan are engaged in sabre-rattling following the terror attacks in Mumbai,experts from both the countries have joined hands and waged a war against a monster that threatens to throttle life. Pakistan has become part of a group of seven countries which has launched a global effort to save the mangroves of Sunderbans.

“Mangrove forestation is an area where the two countries can exchange expertise to fight the global menace of climate change,” Aban Marker Kabraji,the Pakistani member,told Indian Express.

In a global effort to fight climate change where mangroves form a resistance,representatives of seven countries paid a visit to Sunderbans mangrove forest.

Under the banner of Mangrove for the Future (MMF),a global initiative by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN),UNDP,UNEP and FAO,regional representatives from Pakistan,Maldives,India,Vietnam,Thailand,Bangladesh and Indonesia discussed with locals and government officials based in Sunderbans about the work of mangrove plantations.

“The Sunderbans forest is in a great shape and the purpose of our visit was based on the assumption that the mangrove forests are of utmost importance to act as resistance against global warming. Neither India nor Pakistan is a contributor of carbon emission but they are equally affected. From the environment point of view,both countries can join hands to initiate trans-boundary projects,” said Kabraji.

According to Kabraji ,there are provisions of mangrove regeneration where the two countries can share their expertise and knowledge. Places like Baluchistan and Send in Pakistan have already successfully implemented mangrove re-plantation projects and the environment experts believe that besides the 100,000 acres of mangrove plantation in Pakistan,there are provisions of still plenty and it is here that India,Pakistan and the whole of South Asia can work together.

“In Pakistan,water shortage is one of the biggest crises and with the changing water regime,there are droughts in agricultural areas along with flash floods. I was impressed with the management of the Sunderbans mangrove forests and its national parks and hope knowledge from here can penetrate into other countries,” said Aban.

“MMF programmes promoting investment in coastal ecosystem conservation has member countries like India,Indonesia,Sri Lanka,Maldives,Seychelles and Thailand. India is one of the countries worse hit by tsunami. So,we decided to hold the workshop in the Sunderbans,” said Don Macintosh,coordinator,the MFF.

MMF country representatives have asked five states like Gujarat,Andhra Pradesh,Orissa,Tamil Nadu and West Bengal to submit proposals. If West Bengal is chosen,then the organisation will be investing in projects to scout for alternative sources of livelihood and fresh water in the Sunderbans.

“At Sunderbans,we studied the way mangroves are being planted and managed. In Thailand,we have started mangrove plantations and I am taking back some pertinent information from India,” said Sonjai Havanond,coastal and mangrove resources management expert from Thailand.

One lakh saplings planted in 2008
Chief Conservator of Forests Atanu Raha on Thursday said the city has been able to retain 80 per cent of its greenery from last year. He said that throughout 2008,one lakh saplings had been planted in the city by the forest department. Also,25 FIRs had been filed against developers who had felled trees in 2008. “Seventeen people did not comply with our notices and we have collected fines worth Rs 64,000 from them,” said Raha.

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