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Migration in India Bengal Delta


As per an international study titled “Deltas, Vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA)”, economic reasons are the precipitating factors for migration in the Indian Bengal Delta

  • The study  covered 51 blocks of districts of South and North 24 Parganas.
  • It was held between 2014 and 2018 focusing on three deltas :
    • Ganga Brahmaputra Meghna Delta (India and Bangladesh)
    • Volta (Ghana)
    • Mahanadi (India)
  • It looks into the aspect of climate change, adaptation and migration in these deltas.
  • Experts also map the climate change hot spots and highest risk areas of Sunderbans based on an analysis of climate change hazards.


  • It reveals that migration happens due to:
    • Economic reason: 64 percent of people migrate because of economic reasons, unsustainable agriculture, lack of economic opportunities and debt
    • Social reason: 28 percent of the migration from the region is for social reasons
    • Environmental reason: About 7 percent for environmental reasons like cyclones and flooding.
  • Gender disparity: The study also points out that there is huge gender disparity when it comes to those migrating in the Indian Bengal Delta, where people migrating 83 percent are men and only 17 percent are women.
  • Key-destination: In terms of the destination of migrations, 51 percent of migration from the Indian Bengal Delta is to other areas of the State particularly to the city of Kolkata, 10 percent to Maharashtra, 9 percent to Tamil Nadu, 7 percent Kerala and 6 percent to Gujarat.
  • Sensitivity: The areas of Gosaba, Basanti, Kultali, Sagar, Kakdwip, Namkhana, Canning and Mathurapur have high levels of agriculture dependency and so are sensitive to climate hazards such as flood and salinity.
  • Types: 57 percent of migration is seasonal, where people move once or twice a year; 19 percent is circular where those migrating move thrice a year irrespective of reasons and 24 percent permanent where people intend to stay for at least six months in the place they are migrating to.


  • Migration refers to the movement of people from one place to another with various intentions such as settling temporarily or permanently. It could also voluntarily or forced.
  • It happens for a range of reasons, these can be economic, social, political or environmental. Push and pull factors drive migration.
  • International Migration Day: In December 2000, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 18th December International Migrants Day. In 18th December, 1990, the UNGA adopted the International Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.


  • Sundarbans, also known as the Bengal Delta or the green delta, is spread out in an area of almost 1,330 square kilometres in India.
  • It is home to 4.5 million people, where natural resource-based livelihoods such as agriculture and fishing are predominant.
  • World’s largest mangrove forest: Sunderbans National Park is the largest mangrove swamp in the world.
  • World’s largest deltaic forest: This Archipelago is the world’s largest deltaic forest. It is formed by the amalgamation of the two rivers, Ganga and Brahmaputra.
  • A conglomeration of islands: The Ganga – Bramhaputra delta, the abode of Sundarban is an archipelago of 54 tiny islands.
  • Home of Royal Bengal Tigers: These dense evergreen delta-forests are homes to the Royal Bengal tigers. The Sunderbans Tiger reserve is known to have the largest number of tigers in the world.


  • Economic insecurity: Economic insecurity plays a major role in migration. Underemployment and unemployment, hunger caused due to extreme poverty and several other hardships force a person to migrate to a better place of opportunity.
  • Environment stress: Only 3 percent of the respondents in the Indian Bengal delta singled out environmental stresses as the direct cause of migration, but unseen environmental stresses indirectly disrupt livelihood security and contribute to economic circumstances that directly necessitate migration.
  • Failed adaptation: One of the reasons for migration is failed adaptation in the areas which are under stress due to climate change.


  • Negative impact on receiving area: The negative aspects of the receiving areas are unplanned urbanization, the growth of slums, environment pollution and ultimately, ill consequences on transport, healthcare & another service sector, unhygienic housing and poor live standard.
  • Negative Impact At origin: Labour depletion in a few cases, loss of agricultural productivity, family disintegration and Increase of women and children chores.
  • Positive Impact at Destination: Urban growth, availability of workers for urban services and availability of manpower for industrial, especially export-oriented manufacturing, development.
  • Positive Impact At origin: Poverty reduction, a gain of assets, human resource development, food security at the household level, women empowerment, fertility control and change in family composition (enhance dwelling space).


  • Promotion of agriculture adaptation: Agricultural adaptation should be promoted to reduce livelihood stresses which promote migration.
  • Alternative earning options: Alternative livelihood options should be there to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of the households.
  • Skill development opportunities: The government should focus on improving skill especially for women to improve the likelihood of decent employment opportunities.
  • Place attachment: There should be the promotion of social groups, cooperatives and associations to include migrants to improve their place attachment besides making them feel welcome.


Over the past several decades, migration from Indian Bengal Delta have occurred due to better livelihood opportunities and earning a better income. Many educated men and women from the interior of Indian Bengal Delta have long migrated to urban centres, taking opportunities for better prospects of earning. Migration has been associated with failure at source locations and compounded problems at host locations. This negative construct is due to the unplanned movement of people in large numbers. In such a situation, there is need for a different kind of thinking n the part of the political and governmental leadership as well as communities. Migration can be avoided only with collaborative efforts and strict implementation

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