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Sahara India Eco Tourism Project in Sundarbans, West Bengal, India


The Sunderban spanning both in India and Bangladesh contains the world's largest region of mangrove forests. The Indian side of Sunderban, is covering about 9,630 sq. km. The area is rich in marine as well as fresh water flora and fauna.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sahara India Eco Tourism Project in Sundarbans, West Bengal, India
State or province:West Bengal
Location of conflict:Islands- Sagar, Fraserjunj, L-Plot, Kaikhali, Jharkhali,Jambudwip, South 24 Parganas
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Tourism Recreation
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Specific commodities:Land
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Sahara India’s mega-tourism project would span about 36,000 sq.kms of water area spanning five Virgin Islands in the Sundarban Delta. The proposed project will be built in many different islands namely Sagar, Fraserganj, L- Plot, Kaikhali, Jharkhali and others. It will occupy about 750 acres of lands. The project will accommodate about 75% on the floating Boat houses and 25% on-shore cottages, huts and tents. The complex would equipped all modern recreation facilities to explore the creeks of the deltaic estuary [4]

Project area:364
Level of Investment:$ 82,150,979 (500 Crore)
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000-20,000
Start of the conflict:2003
Company names or state enterprises:Sahara India Pariwar (Sahara) from India - Executor
Relevant government actors:Government of West Bengal
Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Equations (Web Site
Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (Disha)
Fishworkers’ Organisations
Local Villagers
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Development of alternatives:Sunderbans is a globally recognized as ecologically sensitive area. Local villagers as well as scientists and environmental activists were surprised with the proposed project on a highly eco-sensitive zone internationally recognised as World Heritage Site. The area is already under threat of many human activities. The area is experiencing erosion on many islands and is economically important. The risk and threat to the marine ecology due to this project is far too great and will affect the entire ecology and environment of the Sunderbans. Hence the project should have been rejected [1]
The protestors also pointed that the public hearing conducted for the project was done without proper public notice. The Government was approached a number of times by public forums and civil society organisations but there was total lack of transparency and response. The project will affect thousands of fishermen and small farmers. So the immediate stop all activities related to this project was demanded [4]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Because of the protest from the various groups as well as local farmers, fishermen and villagers the Sahara Project was shelved. However, the project was not been officially discarded. Many other big investors also shown their interest in Eco tourism project in Sundarban. Government had also shown its interest to such kinds of Mega Tourism in Sundarban [4].
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Forest (Conservation) Act 1980
[click to view]

West Bengal Marine Fishing Act, 1993
[click to view]

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 & Rules
[click to view]

Coastal Aquaculture Authority Act & Rules
[click to view]

The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
[click to view]

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Equations - "Who Really Benefits from Tourism?"
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Resisting the sell-out of Sunderban
[click to view]

[3] Sahara to set up Rs 500 cr 'floating city' in Sunderbans
[click to view]

[4] A Study On – Corporate Abuse In Sundarban
[click to view]

[5] Citizens’ Protest Against Sahara Mega-Tourism Project In Sunderban
[click to view]

[6]The Sunderbans KILLER ASSAULT
[click to view]

Sahara and the Sunderbans - Ecotourism or Megatourism?
[click to view]

Amitav Gosh on the "eco-tourism" project
[click to view]

[2] Sahara to make Sundarbans global tourist destination
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019
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