Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Decrease salinity ASAP to save the Sundarbans

 Ensuring freshwater flow from upstream is an urgent necessity to mitigate increasing salinity in the South-west coastal region and save the Sundarbans, speakers at a discussion held in the capital said yesterday.


They also said that due to the reduction in waterflow in the Padma, that flows towards the Sundarbans through the Gorai-Rupsa-Pashur and the Bhairab-Kobadak tributaries, saline water is entering the upper areas and hampering agriculture.


“The mangrove ecosystem of the Sundarbans has the capacity to tolerate a certain level of salinity, but the reduced upstream water-flow is increasing salinity in the lands, ultimately damaging the forest ecosystem,” said Dr Ataur Rahman, a professor of Water Resources Engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.


The saline tolerance of Sundarbans is 10 to 15 ppt (parts per thousand grams) while the current salinity level in the region is around 35 ppt.


He also said that the mangrove forest will be at risk in the future if the salinity level cannot be reduced to a certain level soon.


Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmed, country representative of International Union for the Conservation of Nature  Bangladesh, said that two important factors – a certain level of salinity and siltation – are mandatory for the regeneration and sustenance of mangrove ecosystems, and while both factors are abnormal in the case of the Sundarbans in the Bangladeshi regions.


Besides the increased level of salinity, the Sundarban is being adversely affected by a decrease in siltation due to the unplanned establishments of infrastructure, like embankments in the coastal rivers, he added while addressing a roundtable discussion titled "Protect Sundarban: Our Role" organised by Media Alliance for Sundarban. The program was held at the conference room of the daily Bhorer Kagoj.