India, Bangladesh to set up forum to save Sundarbans

Kolkata: India and Bangladesh on Sunday decided to set up a joint Sundarbans Eco-System Forum to protect and preserve the world heritage site from the impact of climate change.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and his Bangladesh counterpart Hasun Mahmud on Sunday said steps had already been initiated in the two countries in this regard.

Speaking at an international workshop 'Climate Threat to Sundarbans Across India and Bangladesh', where both the ministers were present, Ramesh said he was optimistic about the forum being set up by next September.

They two told the workshop that the Sundarbans, which has the biggest mangrove forest in the world spread over West Bengal and Bangladesh, was one of the most climatically vulnerable areas of the world.

"We need to protect and preserve this biosphere reserve jointly. Setting up the forum is a distinctive possibility and we deserve it as the forest having 60 per cent of its territory in Bangladesh and the rest in India is 50 times the size of the Maldives," Ramesh said.

Ramesh said the forum would enable both governments to take up joint projects to preserve the mangrove forest and the tiger population.

"The forum will be the first practical demonstration of efforts to protect the Sundarbans," he said.