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Mitigating Measures of Drinking Waters for Climate Change-Affected Sunderbans

Gautam Kumar Das

Only 20C temperature rise, heat wave and global warming due to climate change destroy 18% insects, 16% vegetations and 8% vertebrates of the world. The rate of declining of mammals would be very high and the scientists predict that they might return back to the earth again after 5 million years approximately and surprisingly the human being would be vanished first among other large mammals as a consequence of the climate change. According to the scientists, the entire animal kingdom has been disappeared from this planet earth for five times. They predict that the earth would like to face the complete disappearance of the animals of all classes for the sixth time in the near future as a result of global warming, sea-level rise, subsidence etc due to climate change. All these facts are reflected in the 5th IPCC Report published on 18th October, 2018 which is prepared by 91 scientists of 40 countries, checked and verified by 6000 scientists and duly moderated by 42000 specialists and representatives from different countries. The report states that the country like Bangladesh will be submerged if the temperature raises 30C, which means the entire Bangladesh Sunderbans including its Indian part will be inundated with the saline waters accordingly. If there be any highland tipping point suitable for the habitation, the island or the region will face the scarcity of domestic daily needs for living purposes inclusive drinking waters which is very much important aspect for the Sunderbans livelihoods. The entire area of the Sunderbans will not be submerged all on a sudden, but it faces gradual inundation with the rise of both temperature and sea-level. Sea-level rise first causes the intrusion of saline water into the pond or other sources of fresh water availability that needs the installation and purification plants for drinking water supply. A few islands of the Sunderbans already faces the drinking water problem having salinity of 1 ppt availed in the deep tube wells of 1000 – 1200 feet depth. The sinking of such deep tube wells on such places of the island which is under lower topographical stand than the flood plain of the river separating the agricultural land or habitation area by the river embankment.

Climate change leads to the sea-level rise and as a consequence, the availability of drinking water at fresh water source gradually undergone submerging results the scarcity of drinking water to the islanders of the Sunderbans. The State Government is not insouciant about such problem and taken initiatives at grass root level with the scientific and financial assistance of the central government. Accordingly the Public Health Engineering Department under the Government of West Bengal takes the initiatives for the measures of mitigating the problems through installation of Reverse Osmosis plants in the Machhranga Island under North 24 Parganas district where water desalination process is going on with the financial and scientific assistance of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhabnagar, Gujarat. The Reverse Osmosis plant is driven by the bullock at initial stage due to lack of electricity power supply at Machhranga Island that stands at a little distance away from the Sunderbans border-line as drawn by Dampier and Hodges. Further, installation of boat mounted sea-water Reverse Osmosis plant for fresh water supply after desalination is an achievement for the different islands of the Sunderbans which have the capacity of production of 150 liters per hour. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhabnagar, Gujarat initiated the installation of a plant at Taki area of the Sunderbans with a capacity of production at the rate of 1250 liters per hour. The Reverse Osmosis plant, funded by Department of Science and Technology, is installed here. 

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhabnagar, Gujarat introduced mobile van having Reverse Osmosis plant for a specific event for desalination and purification of saline water intruded during the super cyclone Aila. The Reverse Osmosis plant installed mobile bus was taken by the Border Security Force personals to the Aila affected Hingalganj through the burge services. The Reverse Osmosis installed bus rendered service of desalination and purification  of salt water affected pond water during the disaster of Aila at the rate of 30,000 liters purified waters per day. The purified potable water was distributed among the Aila-affected islanders in the Hingalganj block. All these devices introduced by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhabnagar, Gujarat would be helpful for the desalination and purification of waters if the Sunderbans faces the intrusion of saline or brackish waters for sea-level rise as a result of climate change.  

Reverse Osmosis is an emerging technology for desalination and purification of water with its own advantages and disadvantages over other methods used in desalination of brackish waters in the Sunderbans. The advantages are that its rapidity and reliability whereas its disadvantages are its cost of power supply. Still both the state government and central government have to take few steps collecting to stop this unfortunate as well as unavoidable situation for gradual scarcity of drinking water supply in the Sunderbans on the verge of further deteriorations. Islanders along with the local government like Gram Panchayet must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health in the ensuing future and use this technique introduced by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute, Bhabnagar, Gujarat for the betterment of quality drinking water supply in the climate change-affected Sunderbans.

Frontier
Mar 5, 2019


Gautam Kumar Das [email protected]

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