This 25 years study on the changes of coastal zones from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar along the Bay of Bengal studied changes of water-flow and the flora and fauna of the estuaries of the Karnaphuli, Halda, Sangu and Matamuhuri rivers, which flow down from the adjacent Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and Arakan Lusai Hills. The hydroelectric dam on the Karnafuli River damaged 700 km² of hill forests and caused mass migration of tribal people.
Human pressure, deforestation, pollution, upstream dams, flatland cultivation practices, shrimp culture and unplanned infrastructures cause major causes to the coastal zones and adjacent hills. Destruction of mangroves of Chokoria Sundarbans and Cox’s Bazar are the result of shrimp culture. About 91% of the perennial streams of the Chittagong and CHT have lost their dry season flows, resulting in a serious water crisis. Discharge of effluents from the shrimp hatcheries, digging of shrimp ponds and hill-cuttings have caused erosion. The sea current has already damaged 3.4km of sea shore from Kolatoti to Himchari in Cox’s Bazar.
The study reveals that more than 34 plant species of tropical rainforest including Podocarpus nerifolia and Enteda phaseoloids which face extinction. Animal lives such as cats, bears, porcupine, wild boars, pythons and anteaters have become rare. Red crabs, jelly fish, sharks, and dolphins have become rare since 1980. Hilsa ilisha has migrated to Myanmar coast and further deep sea, but marine Hilsa used to breed in the fresh waters of the Ganges, Brahmaputa and Meghna’s meeting point Chandpur to Gualanda, about 100-150 km inside Bangladesh. The Halda freshwater fish breeding zone has move 14 km east due to increased salinity in the Bay of Bengal.
This paper was presented in the Global Summit on Coastal Seas EMECS 9 on August 28-31, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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