Friday, March 26, 2010

Rising seas claim island at centre of 30-year dispute

Andrew Buncombe in the Independent (UK): A low-lying island in a sprawling mangrove delta which has been disputed by India and Bangladesh for almost 30 years will be squabbled over no more. It has disappeared beneath the waves.

In what experts say is an alarming indication of the danger posed by rising sea levels brought about by global warming, New Moore Island has become totally submerged. "It is definitely because of global warming," said Professor Sugata Hazra of Jadavpur University in Kolkata. "The sea level has been rising at twice the previous rate in the years between 2002 and 2009. The sea level is rising in accordance with rising temperatures."

Known as New Moore Island in India, and South Talpatti in Bangladesh, the uninhabited outcrop in the Sundarbans delta region measured barely two miles in length and one-and-a-half miles in width. Yet the island had been angrily disputed by the two countries, almost ever since Bangladesh secured independence from Pakistan in 1971.

….The problem in resolving the issue was that the flashpoint island was situated directly beneath the mouth of the river Hariabhanga, which marked the agreed international boundary between the two countries. Technically, possession of the island depends on which side of the island the main channel of the river flows. That has never been agreed by the two countries.

Yet such vagaries of ocean flow no longer matter. Mr Hazra said the island, first noticed in 1974 and possibly created by a massive cyclone that tore across Bangladesh, was no longer visible on satellite imagery….

Location of the now submerged South Talpatti Island (or New Moore Island) in the Bay of Bengal

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