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Update: Update: April 21, 2022

The sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed that vulnerable populations across the world, and especially in the Global South, are already facing the impact of climate change. What is particularly chilling is that these reports represent an international consensus and hence are an understatement of the crisis faced. The reality is considerably worse.

Already floods, storms, heat and cold waves, rising sea levels, water stress and air pollution disrupt the lives of millions of city dwellers and rural populations. The impact is felt most by the vulnerable and impoverished residents of the cities and landless agricultural labour, small farmers, pastoralists, tribal and indigenous people and other forest dwellers and coastal communities. Moreover, the increased frequency of extreme weather events increases the risk of disaster situations and severely impacts people’s resilience to cope with the ongoing agrarian crisis.

In this context, we are publishing “Troubles in the Sundarbans: A study of social and ecological issues in Hingalganj Block, North 24 Parganas, West Bengal”. This report presents the results of a study that ActionAid Association undertook. The Sundarbans has great significance as it is the single largest mangrove forest in the world. The area is rich and productive with plant and animal biodiversity, and the forests act as a shield to storm surges and gusty winds that often emerge in this area prone to cyclonic storms.

This research was led by a team of experts from the Professional Institute for Development and Socio-Environmental Management (PRISM), steered by Dr Aniruddha Dey, with the capable support from his colleagues Sk Tawhidul Islam, Swarnabha Bandyopadhaya, Anindita Majumder and Nandini Sanyal. The research team worked closely with the communities in the area, interacting with a broad cross-section of people. Interviews and discussions with people have been supplemented by scientific tests of water, soil and air to create a “dip-stick” data on key ecological parameters.