India: Once a flashpoint in India-Bangladesh ties, the New Moore Island or Purbasha in the Bay of Bengal, which Dhaka called the South Talpatti, has ceased to exist, consumed by the rising sea. This was announced by the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, India after it scrutinised recent satellite maps of the region.
“There is no presence of the island now. The recent satellite images establish this. This is the first time the loss of the island is being reported,” said Professor Sugata Hazra, Director of School of Oceanographic Studies.
The New Moore Island was first noticed in 1974 in satellite images but experts claimed the island was more than 50 years old. The island surface was only two metres above the sea level.
In the early 1980s, both Bangladesh and India staked claim to the island — 3.5 km long and 3 km wide, located 2 km from the mouth of the Hariabhanga River. In 1981, India sent naval ships to the island and deployed BSF personnel, who hoisted the Indian tricolour to establish, legitimise Indian claim on New Moore. But there was never any permanent settlement there.
Before New Moore, the first inhabited island to have been submerged by the rising sea level was Lohachara in the Sunderbans in 1996. Ghoramara (India) is another island which faces a similar threat — almost 48% of the island is said to have been submerged. The submergence of Lohachara and Ghoramara have resulted in large-scale migration with those displaced being called climate change refugees by environmentalists.