The increase in extreme weather events such as cyclones and heavy rains due to climate change causes displacement of coastal inhabitants pushing them towards the urban shore. Global warming is affecting the rainfall in South Asia, increasing it in some places and decreasing it in others. In 2017, at least 41 million people in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal were affected by flooding resulting from the unusually heavy monsoon rains.
In addition to extreme weather events, India and Bangladesh have been witnessing the same predicament that has arisen from a common environmental disaster. These two countries share a border of low-lying wetland jungles and Bay of Bengal delta—the Sunderbons—where densely settled landscapes have been submerged by the rising seawater setting populations on the move. Cities in India and Bangladesh do accommodate displaced people reluctantly as marginal laborers or small-scale entrepreneurs in the informal economy where they lack secure contracts, benefits or social protection.
River deltas and coastal areas around the world are vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, but the densely populated developing countries such as Bangladesh and India, both of which have long shallow coastlines (India 7500 km and Bangladesh 710 km), are among the most affected regions. Greenpeace India estimates that, in India, 24 million people would be displaced if the sea level rose to one meter and about 34 million if the sea level rose to three meters by the end of the century. It is estimated that one-meter rise in sea level would inundate about 17.5% of the land area in Bangladesh. The sea-level rise along with its concomitant events severely affects the livelihoods of about 35 million natural resource-dependent coastal populations of Bangladesh, and a significant proportion of them might turn into climate migrants by the middleof this century.
Dayabati roy This pertinent question has recently been raised during an informal discussion with the author by an activist leader