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Villagers fear for survival on Ghoramara Island in Sunderbans

Updated : November 29, 2018 12:21 PM IST

Residents of Ghoramara Island want to leave their home as it shrinks each year due to rising seas, but many say they can't afford it.

The 4.6 sq km (1.8 sq mile) island, part of the Sundarbans delta on the Bay of Bengal, has nearly halved in size over the past two decades, according to village elders.

The tiny island is home to 4,800 people, down from 7,000 a decade ago.

"If a tsunami or a big cyclone hits this island we will be finished," said Sanjib Sagar, village leader on the island 150 km (93 miles) south of the Indian city of Kolkata.

The Sundarbans, shared by India and Bangladesh, include the world's largest mangrove forest as well as rare or endangered tigers, dolphins, birds and reptiles.

Ghoramara is among many islands in the delta affected by rising sea levels and soil erosion experts say is caused by climate change.

Residents say the flood waters are getting worse, threatening their homes and livelihoods.

A woman walks towards an embankment after tying her cow to higher ground during high tide on Ghoramara Island, India, September 8, 2018. Ghoramara Island, part of the Sundarbans delta on the Bay of Bengal, has nearly halved in size over the past two decades, according to village elders. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A woman walks towards an embankment after tying her cow to higher ground during high tide on Ghoramara Island, India, September 8, 2018. Ghoramara Island, part of the Sundarbans delta on the Bay of Bengal, has nearly halved in size over the past two decades, according to village elders. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Sulekha Haldar, 38, sells vegetables inside her shop in a market area on Ghoramara Island, India, September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Sulekha Haldar, 38, sells vegetables inside her shop in a market area on Ghoramara Island, India, September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A hilsa fish is seen as fishermen pull the net on a boat near Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A hilsa fish is seen as fishermen pull the net on a boat near Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A fisherman cooks as others rest on a boat after casting net in the water near Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A fisherman cooks as others rest on a boat after casting net in the water near Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Villagers work in a paddy field on Ghoramara Island, India, August 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Villagers work in a paddy field on Ghoramara Island, India, August 19, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A fisherman and his family ride past Ghoramara Island on their boat on Muri Ganga River, India, August 18, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A fisherman and his family ride past Ghoramara Island on their boat on Muri Ganga River, India, August 18, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Utensils belonging to a tea shop lie in a pond before getting washed on Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Utensils belonging to a tea shop lie in a pond before getting washed on Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Workers repair a boat along the coastline on Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Workers repair a boat along the coastline on Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man walks past a house which was damaged by a high tide on Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man walks past a house which was damaged by a high tide on Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A girl plays on the coastline on Ghoramara Island, India, October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A girl plays on the coastline on Ghoramara Island, India, October 23, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man reads a newspaper in a market area in Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A man reads a newspaper in a market area in Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Purnima Shaw, 27, makes a ritual painting from rice paste on clay floor on the occasion of Laxmi Puja festival on Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Purnima Shaw, 27, makes a ritual painting from rice paste on clay floor on the occasion of Laxmi Puja festival on Ghoramara Island, India, October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A ShiÕite Muslim man participates in a Muharram procession on Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
A ShiÕite Muslim man participates in a Muharram procession on Ghoramara Island, India, September 22, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Mihir Kumar Mondal, 51, works inside his betel leaf farm at Ghoramara Island, India, August 18, 2018.
Mihir Kumar Mondal, 51, works inside his betel leaf farm at Ghoramara Island, India, August 18, 2018. "Every year high-tide salt water enters my farm and destroys my cultivation, so I have to face a big loss every year," Mondal said. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Mahabuba Khatun, 15, cleans a fishing net in front of her house on Ghoramara Island, India, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Mahabuba Khatun, 15, cleans a fishing net in front of her house on Ghoramara Island, India, September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri
Published : November 29, 2018 12:15 PM IST
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