In the early 1970's, there was an island in the western Sunderbans (India) called Kakdwip Char. It was on the river called Muriganga, between Kakdwip and Sagar island. The small island was an uninhabited one, covered with thick mangroves and the woodcutters from Kakdwip used to visit the place quite often to fell trees illegally and sell the wood in the mainland.
A little more than two years later, Lohachara island is emerging again. This was first noticed by Jadavpur University scientists in satellite images. This island in the western part of the Sunderbans — it was claimed — was the first inhabited one in the world to be inundated because of global warming. Along with this to go under water was the nearby island of Suparibhanga or Bedford, a land mass which was uninhabited, officially.
According to Tuhin Ghosh, senior lecturer, School of Oceanographic studies, JU, “Lo hachara and Bedford were there in 1975 satellite data. In 1990 pictures, a small portion of Lo hachara is visible. There’s no sign of Bedford. In a 1995 satellite picture, Lohachara had vanished. But in satellite pictures of 2007, you can see Lohachara coming back... It’s a revelation.”
An on-the-spot survey showed that the vanished islands are indeed emerging. One can walk around on it during low tide and just before high tide, the land mass rises around three feet above the water.
The emergence of this island is such a new phenomenon that even many residents of Ghoramara don’t know about its existence. “You will find nothing. Lohachara is not there. It has been eaten up by the river,” says Arun Pramanik.
But hiring a trawler to around one kilometre south-west of Ghoramara gives a different picture. The island is there in front of one’s eyes. Says boatman Mukunda Mondal (41), “Yes, the island is emerging. I have noticed it for the past one year. It’s clearly visible in winter.”
Judhisthir Bhuian, now a resident of Jibantala colony on the Sagar island, had his home on the Lohachara . He still goes back to the place where their house once stood. “A huge landmass is coming up, covering Lo hachara and Bedford,” he says.
According to Tuhin Ghosh, it is not unlikely. “The island can reappear because of different geomorphic reasons,” says Ghosh, who has worked in the area for around nine years and done his PhD on the Ghoramara island, around a kilometre north of Lohachara."