Disappearing island solves India-Bangladesh dispute

KOLKATA, March 25, 2010 (AFP) – A tiny island at the centre of a territorial dispute between India and Bangladesh has disappeared beneath the waves due to rising sea levels and erosion, scientists say.

At its height, it was never more than two metres (about six feet) above sea level.

Hazra said a larger island, called Lohachara, disappeared in the Bay of Bengal in 1996 after 4,000 inhabitants had fled.

At least five other islands in the region are also threatened, he said.

Bangladesh is one of the countries worst affected by climate change with some scientists predicting 20 million people will be displaced by 2050 because of rising sea levels. The uninhabited outcrop — called New Moore island by India and South Talpatti by Bangladesh — was 3.5 kilometres (about two miles) long and 3.0 kilometres wide before it was swallowed up by the Bay of Bengal.

“There’s no trace of the island anymore. After studying satellite images, I confirmed this from fishermen,” Sugata Hazra, a professor from the School of Oceanographic Studies at Jadavpur University in Kolkata, told reporters.

Hazra said global warming and erosion were responsible for solving a point of contention in