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A new technology developed by Indian scientists is helping in revival of mangroves degraded due to rising sea levels, climate change and human intrusion in the Sunderbans in West Bengal.

New Delhi, September 17 (India Science Wire): A new technology developed by Indian scientists for ecological restoration is helping in revival of mangroves degraded due to rising sea levels, climate change and human intrusion in the Sunderbans in West Bengal. 

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A 1,320 MW power plant near mangrove forests of Sundarbans may have irreversible consequences.

The mangrove forests of the Sundarbans are the biggest barriers against cyclones from the Bay of Bengal, saving both India and Bangladesh from irreparable damage. A UNESCO world heritage site consisting of Ramsar bird conservation area and three wildlife sanctuaries, the Sundarbans will soon see a 1,320 MW thermal plant operating at Rampal, just 14 km away from its officially demarcated boundary in south Bangladesh. Environmentalists have raised an alarm about a possible impact of running a power plant near the eco-sensitive area.

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Policy matters this week

Constitute a committee to monitor Ken-Betwa river link, suggests NTCA

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Normal monsoon leads to record agricultural output this year

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When climate change threatens the existence of Sundarbans’ mangroves, villagers get together to plant millions of them to protect the fragile ecosystem.

Come monsoon, the villages in the Sundarbans islands witness nature’s fury with floodwaters overriding all boundaries and inundating huge tracts of land. As such, the earthen embankments, stretching to 3600 kms on the 54 inhabited islands out of a total of 102 in the Sundarbans, protect scores of people from floods and tidal waves. But what protects these embankments from angry tides? It’s the mangroves.

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In 2009, Cyclone Aila caused significant damage to livelihoods in the Sunderbans. While saline soil is subversive to agriculture in the area, integrated farming gives many the courage to start afresh.

“Another flood like Aila should never happen again, but if it does, we have the knowledge to start working on our soil again”, remarks Binota Munda of Nebukhali village in Hingalganj block, North 24 Parganas. Cyclone Aila that came in 2009 caused extensive damage in large parts of India and Bangladesh, killing scores of people

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Policy matters this week

Sunderbans and Siachen glacier proposed to be recognised as a trans-boundary protected area

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Floods are generally considered damaging but this story is one where the farmers of Bihar willingly invited a flood to bless their fields!

Bihar is no stranger to floods. The high-volume, high-velocity floods caused by large infrastructure projects regularly disrupt lives and decimate entire villages. This is the oft-repeated narrative, one of a helpless population as victims.

A little less well known is the other story- the one where Biharis manage their landscape and their rivers to provide them with a successful harvest. One such instance is that of the artificial flood created in the Sugerbe river by the people of Laksena village in Madhubani to protect their harvest from the effects of drought.

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Flooded rivers may be a problem in Bihar, but diverting them is not a solution; neither is building embankments. Example: Sitamarhi.

The twin sisters:  Bihar is a land of fertile farms bearing sugarcane, wheat, rice, gram and pulses. Interspersed between the fields are venerable mango groves. Of Bihar's children, perhaps none is as universally loved as Sita. The village that she was born in -Sitamarhi- welcomed another daughter along with Sita. This was the Lakhandei, a river that flowed through the town till a few decades ago and is revered as Sita's sister.

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The Bhutahi Balan, a tributary of the Kosi may be a small river but it has caused immense devastation. Dinesh Mishra says that embankments aren't the answer to this problem.

It's been years since Bhutahi Balan, a small tributary of the Kosi river in Madhubani, North Bihar, has been causing devastation on both its banks. Dinesh Mishra in his book 'Story of a ghost river and engineering witchcraft' objectively analyses the failure of embankments, which are raised banks to contain the river's flooding.

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