While the impact of climate change has affected the entire country, there is no doubt that the southwest region has been hit the hardest. For many reasons, the life and livelihood of the people there are under threat. On one hand there are frequent natural disasters due to climate change. On the other hand, the depletion of nature has left the areas bereft of natural ability to tackle these disasters. And also, with river water being withdrawn upstream at the Farakka barrage, salinity has increased.
According to Prothom Alo reports, from 1995 to 2015, agricultural land in Khulna and Satkhira districts has gone down by 75 thousand acres. But saline water shrimp cultivation has taken over about 100 thousand hectares. If things continue in this manner, at one point of time there may be no agricultural land left at all in Khulna and Satkhira. As it is, the region has not been able to recover from the scars left by the devastation cyclones Sidr and Aila.
While population is growing in all regions of the country, it has fallen by 60 thousand over the last one decade in Khulna due to the lack of livelihood. Poverty is prevalent here too. And when the embankment breaks, letting in saline water, there are no measures to address the situation. On the contrary, influential persons have canals dug to channel the salt-infused water to their shrimp farms. This is an alarming matter.
Salinity is destroying the biodiversity, environment, agriculture and fisheries of the southwest region. The rivers of this region, dependent of the Ganges, are drying up and near dead. To clear the region of salinity, fresh water must be allowed to flow down from upstream and infusion of saline water from the seat must be prevented. Ganges and Teesta are international rivers. And upstream country cannot simply block the flow of these rivers as they please.
The rivers which are drying up in our country need to be dredged to increase navigability. In recent times, saline-tolerant rice has been grown in the southwest, but the growers are not benefitting much from this. The quality of the rice needs to be improved. Stern laws must also be put in place to prevent people from channeling in saline water for shrimp farming. The ecology cannot be destroyed in the interests of vested quarters.
World heritage Sundarbans must also be saved.