Yaas devastate the Sunderbans



  • Every cyclone poses new challenges to the Sunderbans and its inhabitants.


  • Over just the past three years, the Sunderbans has been damaged by four tropical cyclones — Fani (May 2019), Bulbul (November 2019), Amphan (May 2020) and Yaas (May 2021).
  • With every cyclone, the region has suffered damage because of gale winds and breached embankments, leading to ingress of sea water.
    • The intensity of the gale winds has ranged from 100 kmph to 150 kmph during each of the cyclones.

Effects of Cyclone Yaas:

  • Cyclone Yaas made landfall about 200 km south of the Sunderbans in Odisha. But it inundated large areas of the estuary.
  • There is a scarcity of drinking water because of inundation.
  • The combined effect of the full moon tide and the cyclone led to the overflowing and breach of embankments in large areas of the Sunderbans.
  • Not only the western part of Sunderbans that faces Bay of Bengal but large parts in the eastern part of the delta remain under water days after the cyclone and the high tide.
  • Once the sea water enters the islands, the crops are inundated and land cannot be cultivated because of the salinity, even the fish in the ponds die.
  • Ghoramara is one of the islands that has been sinking due to rising sea levels, where a few dozen houses and acres of land go under water every year.
  • Sagar Island, the biggest island of the Sundarbans chain and site of the famous Gangasagar Mela during Makar Sankranti, has also suffered damage.

Way Forward:

  • Solution to this perennial problem lies in long-term planning.
  • Strategies that will minimise the impact of climate change must be adopted.
  • Policy makers must prepare disaster management plans suited to the region.
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