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Climate change to trigger Bangla exodus: Hasina

By Kalyan Barooah

NAY PYI TAW, March 4 � In an admission that is likely to have serious ramifications for the infiltration-hit North Eastern States, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday warned of 30 million Bangladeshis becoming �climate migrants� due to global warming.

The warning by environment groups and bodies and widely reported by the media, including this newspaper, only comes as a confirmation of what is going to come in the near future.

Addressing the third BIMSTEC Summit on Tuesday, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister did not mince words when she warned: �Global assessments indicate that natural disasters in our region would increase in frequency and intensity.�

A rise in one degree Celsius due to global warming would submerge a fifth of Bangladesh, forcing 30 million people to become �climate migrants�, she said.

�This was the reason why in the 64th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and every year thereafter, I have called for a legal framework to ensure social, cultural and economic rehabilitation of climate migrants,� she said.

Later, the BIMSTEC resolution adopted at the end of the Summit said that it recognised the threats posed by climate change to the lives and livelihoods of peoples across the Member States. The BIMSTEC countries agreed to explore collaborative initiatives amongst themselves towards addressing the adverse impacts of climate change in the region.

The issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh has been plaguing the North-east for long and in 2005, the Supreme Court, in a judgement referring to the then Governor Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha�s report, maintained that the impact of the �aggression�, represented by large-scale illegal migrants from Bangladesh, had made the life of the people of Assam �wholly insecure and the panic generated thereby had created fear-psychosis� and other North-eastern States.

Though the Prime Minister of Bangladesh did not raise the issue of ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) at the Summit, she did raise the issue of the water-sharing agreement between India and Bangladesh.

Officials, however, are expecting Sheikh Hasina to raise the issues of the ratification of LBA and Teesta water-sharing during her scheduled meeting with Dr Manmohan Singh.

Meanwhile, Hasina said that countries are sometimes affected by shortfall in production of key cereals. Modalities also need to be found for sharing of water resources, especially of the common rivers. For example, Bangladesh and India have been sharing the water of the Ganges since the signing of the 30-year Ganges Water Sharing Treaty.

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