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
NameSahara India Eco Tourism Project in Sundarbans, West Bengal, India
ProvinceWest Bengal
SiteIslands- 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 CommoditiesLand
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSahara 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 (in hectares)364
Level of Investment (in USD)$ 82,150,979 (500 Crore)
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10,000-20,000
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesSahara India Pariwar (Sahara) from India - Executor
Relevant government actorsGovernment of West Bengal

Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEquations (Web Site

Society for Direct Initiative for Social and Health Action (Disha)

Fishworkers’ Organisations

Local Villagers

The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, 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-economic 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Strengthening of participation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesSunderbans 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 as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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

Forest (Conservation) Act 1980
[click to view]

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011
[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]


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


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

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

Meta Information
ContributorSwapan Kumar Patra
Last update19/09/2014