delta of the Sundarbans is a
harsh area prone to natural
disasters, such as the cyclone
in 1970 which killed 300,000
people. During 'normal' cyclones
the mangrove swamps absorb much
of the first shock which is why
the people of the area do not
build close to the sea.
Despite this a business group have ambitious plans to build an enormous tourism complex in the region, with everything from 'virgin beaches' to shopping centers, restaurants and mini-golf courses.
As Ghosh, and many others, point out, this would not only be an ecological disaster for the area but also a likely financial disaster for the group. The river system carries 8 times as much silt as the Amazon so there are no pristine beaches to be had, the waters are heaving with estuarine sharks and crocodiles, the undercurrents are hazardous, and bacteria and parasites flourish in the water, making it a distinctly unsuitable place for swimming. Add to that the fact that the floating hotels would be a sitting target for cyclones and tidal waves, and that the destruction of the mangrove forests would increase the danger to the local population, and you have a recipe for disaster! More about this.
This article was originally published in May 2005, and has been updated for the
June 2006 paperback release.
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