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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2489

Anni Nasheed, a role model for Mumbai Manoos….?

By Chandramohan - Syndicate Features

The self-styled champions of the local ‘Manoos’ of Mumbai could have avoided earning the bad name they did if only they were genuinely interested in ‘saving’ Mumbai. Instead of resorting to physical attacks on ‘outsiders’—mainly from the Cow (Hindi) belt, they should have realised that a coastal city like Mumbai is under threat of inundation from rising sea level—not from the Biharis and
Doodhwalas (UPites) they love to hate.

The ‘saviours’ of Mumbaiyat should be fighting for government’s attention to tackling threat posed by global warming—higher sea level. A national action plan on climate change has been put in place. But a government announcement often amounts to nothing unless concerned people and the civil society pursues it closely. That is why instead of looking out for unarmed taxi drivers, hawkers and others engaged in poorly-paid jobs the lathi and knife wielding activists in Mumbai should be running after the government to save the city, which undoubtedly is our greatest city.

Mumbai ‘saviours’ will do well to listen to Mohamed ‘Anni’ Nasheed, the new President of Maldives. He wants to save money earned by the lucrative tourism industry to buy a new homeland for the Maldivians. Do you know why? His nation of several islands faces the prospect of going under the sea due to global warming.

Nasheed intends to create a ‘sovereign wealth fund’, It will be modelled on the lines of what the oil-rich Arab states do with their huge oil revenues, to secure a place for his countrymen who have reposed faith in him by defeating a man who was in the saddle for 30-years.

Maldives is close to our Kerala coast but Nasheed is not eyeing for a place in south India, much less in Maharashtra. This must bring cheer to those who want to convert Mumbai into an exclusive territory for the local ‘Manoos’. The Maldivian leader’s preferred new homeland could be in Sri Lanka or far away Australia.

Nasheed plan may sound strange for the uninitiated. Such ‘relocations’ have already taken place, for instance, in Kiribati, a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Perhaps the small population in these islands did not pose much of a problem in the shifting of human beings and their assets. It would, however, be a gigantic task should, God forbid, a city like Mumbai sink under the sea.

Maldives is a nation of white sandy beaches, palm trees and clear waters with 1192 coral islands, all under the threat of devastation from climate change. The highest point in the Maldives is only about a meter above the sea level. For the moment the charm of the islands brings in enough revenue to make the country the richest nation in South Asia.

According to many forecasts the seas may rise anywhere from 50 cm to one metre the year 2100. Apart from dislocating human lives in coastal cities the rising seas and the consequent damage to the infrastructure would lead to colossal losses, estimated to be in trillions of dollars. In New York, for instance, a sea swollen by one metre would mean the end its underground and surface train networks.

Since the beginning of the 20th century sea levels have risen by 20 centimetres (eight inches). But the worrying factor is that in recent years the rate of the sea level rise has almost doubled—from 1.8 millimetres per annum to 3 mm a year. It may further accelerate if global warming is not contained.

All oceans are getting warmer each year due to climate change: the warmer the ocean the larger the volume of water. Melting ice and glaciers contribute further to the rise of sea levels. Ice is melting both at the north and the south poles.

The Organisation of Economic Cooperation has included Mumbai and Kolkata among the cities that are at risk from rising sea levels. Both cities like any other coastal place are also expected to face more severe and more frequent storms and cyclones as a consequence of global warming.

An expert study has included Mumbai among the 130-odd coastal cities around the world that can be drowned by the effects of global warming. About 40 percent of these cities are located in the developing countries. The extent of loss can be comprehended better if it is pointed out that by 2030 nearly 60 percent of the world population would be living in cities and towns. The increase in urban population means that if urgent steps are not taken the phenomenon of global warming will rise faster as more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, which leads to more heat being trapped.

Some of the major steps taken to ward off that danger, such as the Kyoto protocol for curbing carbon emissions, have not brought the desired results. That is because the biggest polluter in the world, the United States of America, is not willing to fall in-line with the need to curb carbon emissions, saying that it will affect the country’s economic growth. But the same argument when advanced by developing countries such as India is rejected. The developing countries are told that they must share the responsibility in equal measure in taking steps to check greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, there are optimists who do not believe in the worst-case scenario. But environmentalists think that it is better to heed to the warning now before it is too late to ward off the danger. If all the ice on the mountain peaks and the north and south poles melts it goes forever. There is no way to restore it—and disaster will be inevitable.

- Asian Tribune -

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