Environmentally Induced Migration from Bangladesh to India

Dr Sarfaraz Alam was a Researcher at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • July 2003

    Environmental crisis in the rural areas of developing countries is increasingly becoming an important cause of cross-border migration of population and South Asia is no exception to this phenomenon. Such movement of population in the Indo-Bangladesh context is generating a range of destabilising socio-political, economic, ethnic and communal tensions in India. It has embittered Indo-Bangladesh relations, causing tensions between the two countries.

    This paper focuses on environmental crisis as a reason for the continued migration of people from Bangladesh to India. It shows that scarcity of land and water in the rural areas of Bangladesh, caused by rapid population growth, environmental change and unequal resource distribution and development, are causing widespread landlessness, unemployment, declining wages and income, growing income disparties and degradation of human habitat. The affected people, unable to satisfy their needs in an economically less-developed Bangladesh, are increasingly moving to India where the prospect of life appears to be better.

    The study suggests that this flow of population would continue unabated, perhaps at a greater rate, unless remedial measures are taken in the places of origin of the migrants

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