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Growth of population:


During post-independence period, this region witnessed sudden influx of population mainly due to migration. The displaced persons forcibly occupied vested lands and cleared forests for habitation. Several such colonies sprung up in this manner. It exerted negative impact on the economy of fringe population. In Sundarban, 36.5% of the population belongs to SC/ST as compared to the State average of 25.61%. Nearly 95% of the population primarily depend on agriculture, which is mostly rain-fed mono-cropping, and about fifty percent of agriculturists are landless laborers. During agricultural lean season, people resort to fishing and collection of prawn seeds, even risking their lives from man-eating tigers and crocodiles. During April / May, some people also enter the Reserved Forests with permits, for collection of honey which is purchased back by West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited.

Backwardness of the region and almost complete dependence of the people on the natural resources of mangrove ecosystem can be attributed to the following factors:-

i) Uncontrolled population growth with low income level (Population increased from 1.2 million in 1951 to 3.9 million in 2001)
ii) Lack of major industries and large scale employment opportunities
iii) Lack of irrigation facility leading to rain-fed, mono-cropped agriculture
iv) Loss of productivity of potential cultivable land due to large scale expansion of aquaculture/ prawn farming
v) Lack of organized transport and communication facility
vi) Absence of Electricity supply in most of the islands
vii) Lack of medical facility, public health care and proper sanitary facilities viii)Occasional devastations by cyclonic storm.

In 4500 inhabited areas, there is only 42 km. of railway line and about 300 km. of pucca road network. The only means of communication between the islands is through the waterways which is poorly organized and people have to depend on the private mechanized boats which are sometimes a serious life-risk. There is acute shortage of well-maintained jetties. Due to obvious reason of inaccessibility, much of the inhabited areas are yet to avail of the conventional electricity supply. Of late, there has been some perceptible breakthrough in the field of solar power supply to a few locations.

Cultural uniqueness :

Sundarban represents a society that is primarily agricultural. The people live in villages adjoining forests which is the home of Tiger. For survival, these people have to fight with the nature day in and day out. The hardships of daily existence have given rise to fraternal feelings and non-communal traditions. Members of both Hindu and Muslim communities worship the same Gods and Goddesses, Gazis and Pirs. The two most famous among them are Dakshin Ray and Banabibi. Dakshin Ray is worshiped as the God of tiger and all those who enter the forests for subsistence, worship Dakshin Ray irrespective of their caste, creed and religion. Banabibi, on the other hand, is considered as the protector of the inhabitants of the forests. She is popular both amongst Hindus and Muslims



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