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The Sundarbans: whose world heritage site?

Conservation and Society
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  • Ge Environmental Sciences
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Political Science


Microsoft Word - Annu Jalais_No3_.doc Debate The Sundarbans: Whose World Heritage Site? Annu Jalais Abstract: Keywords: INTRODUCTION IN 2002, THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ordered the eviction of fishermen from the island of Jambudwip. Jambudwip is an island in West Bengal cus- tomarily used by fishermen as their base to catch and dry fish during the fish- ing season. The main reason for their eviction was to make way for a Rs. 5.4 billion tourism project sanctioned by the West Bengal government to the Sa- hara India Group. The Sahara India Group’s project was to build a ‘world Annu Jalais, Department of Anthropology, A604, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK. Address for Correspondence Annu Jalais, Department of Anthropology, A604, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK. E-mail: [email protected] Conservation and Society, Pages 1–8 Volume 5, No. 3, 2007 Copyright: © Annu Jalais 2007. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Crea- tive Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and distribution of the article, pro- vided the original work is cited. / Annu Jalais 2 class city-centre spread over 250 km2 of water surface’ planning to include a business centre, a cinema theatre, a cultural centre, club houses, health clubs, a helipad, etc. Advertising ‘virgin islands’ and beaches of ‘pristine glory’, this ‘dream’ tourist destination guaranteed a service of ‘global standing’ on float- ing boat houses where one was assured of finding all at the same time a ca- sino, scuba diving facilities and a tiger (Panthera tigris) breeding centre. In other words, it guaranteed to be, in the words of Sekhsaria, a modern tourism blockbuster (13/6/2004). The Sundarbans are a truly unique ecosystem. Apart from providing home to an important number of rare and endangered flora and fauna, it is the only mangrove forest in the world inhabited by tigers. The problem with the

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