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Shariar Kabir, D.; Mazharul Islam, S.; Giasuddin Khan, Md.; Ekram Ullah, Md.; Halder, D.C. (2000). Bangladesh, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 285-296
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


Authors  Top 
  • Shariar Kabir, D.
  • Mazharul Islam, S.
  • Giasuddin Khan, Md.
  • Ekram Ullah, Md.
  • Halder, D.C.

    The Bangladesh coast is very low-lying. The continental shelf is 200 km wide and covers about 60,440 km², over half of which is no deeper than 50 m. Numerous rivers deposit 2.4 billion tons of silt per year, and reduce coastal salinity to 12 ppt during the monsoon period. However, partly because of the Farraka barrage in India and water withdrawal for irrigation, salinisation of agricultural land is extending further inland. Cyclones can cause immense damage. The area experiences the most severe storm surges in the world, and over 30% of the country (almost all the coastal region) is prone to flooding, and has been repeatedly devastated. The eastern region is the most settled and is fringed mainly by mud flats and submerged sands. The famous 145 km Cox's Bazar sand beach lies here. The central region runs east from the Tetulia River to the Big Feni River and includes the mouth of the combined Ganges, Meghna and Brahmaputra rivers. This active delta area is characterised by heavy sediment input, formation of islets and bank erosion, with an approximate yearly net accretion of 35.6 kIn2 of land. The western region is relatively stable and mostly covered with dense mangrove forests, including the Sunderbans. Most offshore islands are deltaic in origin and low-lying, some of which are not yet fully consolidated. The Sunderban is the largest continuous mangrove ecosystem in the world. Its area is expanding slightly due to deposition, but the biota is subjected to degradation and encroachment, and the vegetation on it is disappearing at an alarming rate. 500,000 to 600,000 people depend on the Sunderbans directly for their livelihood. Coastal waters are biologically productive. Fisheries contribute 10% to agricultural GDP and 3% to total GDP, and involve about 190,000 fishermen. The catch of the most valuable penaeid shrimp is showing a gradual decline due to overfishing, and due to inadequate recruitment resulting from intensive collection of wild shrimp fry. Some of the coastal area's groundwater has been severely contaminated by inorganic arsenic, notably in the Bengal delta. Sewage treatment plants are not yet available in cities or settlements; instead, drains, canals and rivers are used for waste removal. Numerous factories contribute to considerable pollution of both waterways and the Bay. Estimating the effects of sea-level rise is very important but it is a difficult task in this low-lying coastal region; one fear is that the Sunderbans and some western parts might completely disappear. No protected areas have been declared in Bangladesh, and there seem to be no examples of successful land-use planning controls, or of offshore management or of integrated coastal protection, but it is essential that each sector of the user community understands the nature and benefits of planned development.

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