Disputed island disappears beneath sea on India-Bangladesh border

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The island of New Moore, an uninhabited territory near the Bay of Bengal between India and Bangladesh, has vanished, according to Indian scientists.

The island, located south of the Hariabhanga river, has been claimed by both Bangladesh and India for almost thirty years, since it first appeared in the seventies. The School of Oceanographic Studies in Calcutta commented that the disappearance of the island was confirmed by satellite imagery.

"There’s no trace of the island anymore. After studying satellite images, I reconfirmed this from fishermen," said Sugato Hazra, the director of Jadavpur University’s school of oceanography studies. According to the Times of India, the island only appears above the water surface if there is an unusually low tide. "What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking has been resolved by global warming."

Hazra commented that, until 2000, sea levels in the area increased approximately three millimetres annually, but in the past year the figure was augmented to about five millimetres. The director said that ten other islands in the vicinity of New Moore were in danger of being submerged as well.

Hazra attributed the island's disappearance to global warming, saying: "Coastal erosion and rising temperature in the Bay of Bengal between 2000 and 2009 led to the Purbasha island getting submerged. Temperature in the region has been rising at an annual rate of 0.4 degree celsius."

In 1996, another isle nearby, Lohachara, was submerged beneath the waters, displacing its inhabitants; meanwhile, the Ghoramara island had lost about half its land, Hazra said. "We will have ever larger numbers of people displaced from the Sunderbans as more island areas come under water."

According to officials, eighteen percent of the Bangladeshi coastal land will be submerged if sea levels increase by one metre by 2050, and twenty million people will be displaced.