West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written to NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar for preparing a master plan for the socio- economic development of the Sunderbans. She called for a systematic review of the multiple challenges faced by the region.
“I would request NITI Aayog to kindly commission the preparation of a Master Plan by an interdisciplinary team of experts covering all aspects of socio- economic development of this ecologically fragile region. Since this will involve the convergent efforts of several ministries/ departments/ agencies, NITI Aayog is suitably placed to steer this exercise,” she said in the letter sent on June 30.
Referring to cyclone Amphan that made a landfall in coastal south Bengal on May 20 last, Ms Banerjee said the Sunderbans received their worst battering in living memory by the cyclone. “Loss of human lives along with loses to homes, agriculture, public utilities and infrastructure were staggering and turned the development wheel by several years,” she noted.
Ms Banerjee pointed out that the foremost challenges the region faced were frequent cyclones that caused considerable destruction and devastation, frequent breaches in earthen embankments leading to saline water flooding in agricultural land and limited means of livelihood among others.
“These difficulties are only going to get compounded by climate change. This latest trail of devastation reminds us of the need for a systematic review of the multiple challenges faced by the Sunderbans and calls for a scientifically designed development package for its protection and balanced socio-economic development. This would require a pool of experts drawn from relevant disciplines and also technical assistance from international/ multilateral bodies,” she wrote.
The Chief Minister also emphasised that the Sunderbans, the world’s largest single block of mangroves, was a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to approximately 50 lakh people, of which 44 % of the population belonged to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.
Source Name – The Hindu