Skip to main content

Delta Vision 2050: Promoting tourism, environment, mangrove regeneration


By Simi Mehta
The Sunderban’s Delta has a rich mix of flora and fauna. This is true for both the Indian and the Bangladeshi side of the largest mangrove forest of the world. Unfortunately, the human population are faced with low levels of development and their lives are prone to several threats arising out of environmental extremes. In turn, this has compromised on the health, education, nutrition, livelihood and overall security of the population. As a result, the region is experiencing large scale migration- oftentimes spilling over as cross-border movements.
To understand Delta Vision 2050 instituted by the policy makers of India and Bangladesh, and its objectives for the betterment of the lives better for the people, the IMPRI Center for Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainable Development (CECCSD), New Delhi have organized a special lecture on “Delta Vision 2050: policy, practice, and people“, under #WebPolicyTalk under The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks with Dr. Debjani Bhattacharyya and Dr. Megnaa Mehtta.

A vision to conserve biodiversity and livelihood

Starting with the moderator of the session Dr. Simi Mehta stated that Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world and actually home to over 4 million people who inhabit almost 50 islands that are spread across the sovereign territory in India and Bangladesh. However, the majority of people live their lives in utter misery and poverty which are widened by natural disasters and environmental extremes exaggerated by climate change. This leads to large-scale migration from the islands to the mainland in search of decent work and shelter turning them into environmental refugees. Delta Vision 2050 was launched to address the difficulties faced by the people with the aim to improve their condition and also to protect Sundarbans.

What is the vision delta 2050 and how it could be improved?

Dr. Megnaa at first, gave a basic understanding of the 2050 Delta Vision itself, as it is an important region to the ecology of the whole area, but this area is quite vulnerable. These are endangered by floods and water overflows, but these have become quite prevalent in recent times because of climate change to tackle the issue this vision was created.
This vision, which was made by the WWF, is a phased plan in which, the population living in the area would leave the same and this would find shelter in the neighboring districts, then mangrove restoration would be started, various settlements in the area would be converted into a forest itself.
The main goal is to promote the ecological environment of the place and increase tourism which will eventually promote mangrove regeneration, which depends on when the area is evacuated. She criticized this approach and stated the lack of environmental humanities has led to such an approach which led to distorting many settled lively hoods. She also brought to attention that how tourism can threaten nature as a whole and how could it impact the Sundarbans itself and how it could change things, which need to be looked over.
“Problems recognized by the plan are quite relevant, steps that are recommended are insufficient and bolder steps should be taken to protect this natural gem”, said Dr. Megnaa.
She further explained the kind of differences and problems people who are getting displaced could be facing because of moving them, and how currently the state is not supporting them. She also unfolded that plan focuses on the economic development of the areas which could be very problematic because at first, the economic quest brought the condition to the area. She added that the delta is difficult and developing it is not easy.
“Commoditizing nature and putting an economic value to it in meshing and unfolding people in capitalist markets of consuming, buying, and selling to save nature has probably put us into kind of ecological crisis that we are currently in”, said Dr. Megnaa.

Role of collaboration between nations and projects to change the outcome

Dr Debjani explained the manner in which the bilateral cooporation between India and Bangladesh to develop Sundarbans, could differently change the area, and how it is very essential rather than betterment. She highlighted that there is a difference in the approach in both the nation’s economic explanation of the area and how the Indian approach to understanding this leaves out various social and political factors along with some specialized economic damages.
Dr Debjani spoke about how the mobilization of the whole population of the area could differently impact people with different economic backgrounds. She emphasized the issue of climate change and significance of the next couple of decades for saving the Planet Earth from an impending climate emergency. She warned that removing the population from Sundarbans would change and impact the area from worse, rather than for good. She used her understanding of how the river of Delaware was cleaned up to use and clear up the whole Sundarbans area.
Dr Debjani spoke about how this forest could work as carbon sink, which could absorb and reduce carbon emissions, this is a major step taken by the Bangladesh of carbon mitigation and showing exponent results, but some reports have brought how would it make the forest depends most marginalized and vulnerable. She provided an argument on how the development of the nation, the tribal and forest residents have willingly given their land and were treated poorly by the state for the redevelopment of the community.

An important social and economic resource base

Dr Reazul Ahsan highlighted how the ecosystem of Sundarbans has influenced the economy and consumer products which are made in Bangladesh. He also brought how natural calamities like storms brought difficulties for the people living in the region, and how the changes brought by its influence the economic activities not only in supply but in long-term damages. He further focued on the possible implications on the impact on the economy if the area of Sundarbans was removed. He stressed that the relocation of the population would not only damage them but how their very pristine culture would be changed and their land would be snatched from their hands.
“Planned or forced displacement may not work, we need to find an alternative to place those people in the same place”, said Dr. Reazul.

Dynamics and Vulnerabilities of Delta

Further, Dr. Debojyoti Das presented his views on the importance of such deliberations and their incorporation in the policy debates. He brought to light that the sociological perspective of the people should be brought and should be given importance in the policymaking and must be instituted.
“It’s important to understand the knowledge of communities while being critical about the idea of migration”, said Dr Debojyoti.
Highlighting the insights about the issues and points that were brought out by the discussants. Dr. Debjani talked about how the important issue of how migration could be a task in India’s contested political climate, how this xenophobic Bengali identity has changed the land conflicts in this delta. She also brought the issue of Australia and the sale of coal and the nation’s ignorance of the climate conference, and she emphasized the change in the nature and style of living that is very much needed in the global north, which would only lead to the development of the global south.
Dr. Megnaa then brought the important ecological insights and how the perception of the people regarding the Sundarbans has been the same, regarding the flora and fauna, it is the essential part, but they can’t ignore the inhabitants of the are which are living there for centuries.
She also brought her observations while working around Sundarbans, rather how difficult living in the area is for the normal citizen when the large fold of the wildlife lives in the area. She also highlighted how the lives of the citizens of the area are not divided by the border, but they live life as living in the same country. But recent developments along this fluid border and the presence of border security force and complete militarization of the area have made life difficult for them.

Pertinent Questions and Concluding Remarks

Answering a question about the nature of the moving border of Sundarbans, Dr Megnaa spoke about how this moving away from the border is essential in their life, in their day-to-day relations since many have acquired this way of living. How this is not possible to put them in an urban area would disrupt their way of living and manner of living.
She responded to queries from the audience the precarity of labor rights and the issue of the informal sector, how it is largely ignored, and the right of laborers who are left unprotected by them. They also believe that the people living in the Sundarbans should play a good role in promoting policy in their area because their living hood is quite difficult than any area, with the help of various experts in marine biology to policymakers.
At last, all the speakers presented their concluding remarks and arguments but also suggested their way forwards for the more equitable development of the area, it was suggested to use citizen science, change the approach of policymaking, inclusion of sociological environmental studies of the area is needed with a better macro-level understanding of the implications.
“We need to have trans-regional and transboundary research”, said Dr. Debojyoti. “There is a need for observing and learning from indigenous communities of delta rather than intervening with ideas of displacement and replacement”, opined Dr. Reazul. “We require small creative solutions blended with local knowledge that can play a significant role in improving lives,” added Dr. Megnna.

Acknowledgment: Ayush Aggarwal, research intern at IMPRI

Comments

TRENDING

Women for Water: WICCI resource council for empowering women entrepreneurs, leaders

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The Water Resources Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry is formed for 2022-24. A National Business Chamber for Women, the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry ( WICCI ) is a premier association empowering women entrepreneurs and leaders in all walks of life through advocacy, pro-active representations to government, implementing projects for women via funds allocated by various government agencies and corporates, plus bringing awareness on all issues that concern women. WICCI boosts and builds women’s entrepreneurship and businesses through greater engagement with government, institutions, global trade and networks. WICCI enables fundamental changes in governmental policies, laws, incentives and sanctions through proper channel, with a view to robustly encourage and empower women in business, industry and commerce across all sectors. WICCI is supported by the massive global networks of ALL Ladies League (ALL), Women Eco

75 yrs of water in India: whither decentralised governance to sustain the precious resource?

By Shubhangi Rai, Megha Gupta, Fawzia Tarannum, Mansee Bal Bhargava Looking into the last century, water resources management have come a long way from the living with water in the villages to the nimbyism and capitalism in the cities to coming full cycle with room for water in the villages. With the climate change induced water crisis, the focus on conservation and management of water resources if furthered in both national and local agenda. The Water management 2021 report by NITI Aayog acknowledges that water and sustainability are of immense importance for the sustenance of life on earth. Water is intricately linked to the health, food security and livelihood. With business as usual, India’s water availability will only be enough to meet 50% of its total demand and 40% of the population in India will have no access to drinking water and sanitation by 2030 . Its Composite Water Management Index 2021 states that ‘India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history and mil

CAG’s audit report creates a case for dismantling of UIDAI, scrapping Aadhaar

By Gopal Krishna  The total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project and its cost: benefit analysis has not been disclosed till date. Unless the total estimated budget of the project is revealed, all claims of benefits are suspect and untrustworthy. How can one know about total savings unless the total cost is disclosed? Can limited audit of continuing expenditure of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), an instrumentality of Union of India be deemed a substitute for total estimated budget of the biometric UID/Aadhaar number project of UIDAI? It has been admitted by CAG that the audit of functioning of the UIDAI is partial because of non-transparency. The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India arising from performance audit of functioning of the UIDAI for the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 is incomplete because it is based on statistical information “to the extent as furnished by UIDAI” upto March 2021. There is also a need to compa

Grassroot innovations in water management: Policy challenges amidst climate change

By Shubhangi Rai[1], Megha Gupta[2], Mansee Bal Bhargava[3] India despite of having a vast traditional water management history continue to struggle with water crisis from disasters like floods and droughts but more with social distress leading to asymmetric access to water goods and services. The rising water crisis in a country that is abundant in water resources and wisdom is worth questioning and resolving. The knowledge that was passed on by our ancestors who used a diverse range of structures that helped harvest rainwater locally besides replenish and recharge the groundwater along the way. Formal and informal rules were locally crafted by the community on who to use the water, how much to use, when to use, how to penalise for misuse, how to resolve conflicts and many more. As a nation, we need to revive our dying wisdom of the traditional water management systems and as water commons, enable the governing mechanisms towards sustainability. In the session on ‘ Grassroot Innovatio

Need to destroy dowry, annihilate greed and toxic patriarchy in India

By IMPRI Team Talking about an evil ever-persistent in our society and highlighting the presence of toxic patriarchy, #IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized a panel discussion on Destroy Dowry: Annihilation of Greed and Toxic Patriarchy in India under the series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps on May 4, 2022. The chair for the event was Prof Vibhuti Patel, Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai and a Visiting Professor, IMPRI. The distinguished panel included – Asha Kulkarni, General Secretary at Anti Dowry Movement, Mumbai ; Kamal Thakar, Sahiyar Stree Sangathan ; Adv Celin Thomas, Advocate at Celin Thomas and Associates, Bengaluru; Shalini Mathur, Honorary Secretary, Suraksha Dahej Maang Virodhi Sanstha Tatha Parivar Paraamarsh Kendra, Lucknow and Secretary, Nav Kalyani Foundation, Gender Resource and Training Centre; and Dr Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary, Shakti Shalini

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist. Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and

Making Indian cities disaster, climate resilient: Towards actionable urban planning

By IMPRI Team  Three-Day Online Certificate Training Programme on “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”: Day 1 A three day Online Certificate Training Programme on the theme “Making Indian Cities Disaster and Climate Change Resilient: Towards Responsive and Actionable Urban Planning, Policy and Development”, a joint initiative of the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM) , Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, was held at the Centre for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. Inaugurating the session Ms. Karnika Arun, Researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. Day 1 of the program included Prof Anil K Gupta, Head ECDRM, NIDM, New Delhi and Mr Tikender Singh Panwar, Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla; Visiting Senior Fellow, IMPRI as conveners, an

Gender gap: Women face disproportionate barriers in accessing finance

By IMPRI Team Women worldwide disproportionately face barriers to financial access that prevents them from participating in the economy and improving their lives. Providing access to finance for women is crucial for financial inclusion and, consequently, inclusive growth. To deliberate and encourage dialogue and discussion for growth, the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) of IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, organized a web policy talk by Mr S. S. Bhat, Chief Executive Officer Friends of Women’s World Banking India, Ahmedabad on ‘Access to Finance for Women’ as a part of its series The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. The session was started by the moderator, Chavi Jain, by introducing the speaker and the discussants and inviting Prof. Vibhuti Patel to start the deliberation. Importance of access to finance for women Prof. Vibhuti Patel, Visiting Professor, IMPRI, New Delhi; Former Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, began by expre

Impact of climate change on Gujarat pastoralists' traditional livelihood

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Karen Pinerio* We are sharing a study[1] based learning on climate resilience and adaptation strategies of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat. There are two objectives of the study: (i) to examine the impact of climate on traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Gujarat state; and (ii) to explore and document the adaptation strategies of pastoralists in mitigating climate adversities, with a focus on the role of women in it. In order to meet these objectives, the research inquiries focused on how pastoralists perceive climate change, how climate change has impacted their traditional livelihood, i.e., pastoralism in drylands (Krätli 2015), and how these pastoral families have evolved adaptation strategies that address climate change (CC)/ variabilities, i.e., traditional livelihood of pastoralists of Kachchh district, Gujarat state. Pastoralism is more than 5,000 years old land-use strategy in India; it is practised by nomadic (their entire livelihood r

How India, Bangladesh perceive, manage Sunderbans amidst climate change

By IMRPI Team The effects of climate change have been evident, and there have been a lot of debates around the changes to be made locally to help and save the earth. In this light, the nations met at the COP 26 conference recently. To discuss this further, the Center for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi , organized a panel discussion on “COP 26 and Locally Led Adaptations in India and Bangladesh Sunderbans” under the #WebPolicyTalk series- The State of the Environment – #PlanetTalks . The talk was chaired by Dr Jayanta Basu, Director, Non-profit EnGIO, Faculty at Calcutta University and an Environmental Journalist, The Telegraph , ABP . The Moderator of the event, Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI , started the discussion by stressing the talk on the living conditions of people living in the Sunderbans Delta from both the countries, i.e. India and Bangladesh. According to the report