Nearly 3,500-km-long embankments in the Sunderbans face the threat of breakdown as the rising water level has put pressure on the dykes in many areas, said Sunderbans Development Affairs Minister Kanti Ganguly.
Some of the embankments were repaired after being damaged by the Cyclone Aila last year, but the threat of the burgeoning sea level posed a grave threat to them, he said.
“It is a question of survival for the people of Sunderbans, and we have to protect the embankments with our own efforts,” Ganguly said.
He said that a “Save Sunderbans” campaign would be launched from May 11 to 14 from Sagar Island to Gosaba in the delta where all people irrespective of political leanings would be welcome.
Ganguly said the people of the Sunderbans would put their own labour to raise the height of the embankments. “We have been clamouring for declaring the problem as a national problem, but to no effect so far,” he said.
“Every high tide is considered dangerous for the dykes which have already turned weak in the last seven to eight months,” the minister said.
The Centre, he said, had assured a sum of Rs 5,000 crore for protection of the banks after Cyclone Aila devastated the villages, but, it “failed” to keep its word.
“Now, we have to protect the embankments with our own efforts,” he said.
The monsoon is still one and a half months away and it is time the banks were strengthened and their height increased.
Lahirypur and Satjelia gram panchayats in the Gosaba police station area are particularly exposed to the danger of total inundation, the minister pointed out.