Good Fences Aren’t Enough

May 10, 2008

According to an IIT-Madras prof, the impact of global warming raising temperatures by 4-5 degrees will be:

The scale of migration would be equivalent to the Partition ten times over. It would displace 375 times the number of people needing rehabilitation from the Sardar Sarovar project.About 75 million people from Bangladesh would migrate to India as climate change, rise in sea levels, drought, shrinking water supplies and monsoon variability takes a toll on coastal states and regions.

(Hindustan Times)

75 million extra Bongs! The horror! They will vote for the CPI-M, go on Bangla bandhs, and swamp quizzes with unworkoutable questions. This must be prevented. The problem is:

One study estimated the minimum cost of protection against one metre sea level rise would be about $500,000 per km but even that wouldn’t be able to protect 20-50% of the vulnerable population.

$500,000 per Km of coastline is an obscene amount. And with 580 Km of Bangladeshi coastline, the total cost works out to Rs. 1160 crore, and there’s still no guarantee it’ll work.

Fencing the border, on the other hand, takes only 440 crore rupees. The trouble is that fences are notorious for not working. They can be cut. Fence guards can be bribed. People can tunnel under them. For the fence to work, you need to reinforce it.

The ideal way to reinforce it would be with motion-sensor-equipped rocket launchers that would fire rockets with HE warheads every time someone came near the fence. Unfortunately this is expensive. It would also require uninterrupted power supply to the fence, something the eastern states of India are notorious for not having. No, reinforcing the fence will require something more low-tech and more low-cost.

Landmines suggest themselves. After all, NGOs are always going on about how the terrible thing about landmines is that they’re so cheap that laying a minefield costs practically nothing. This sounds excellent and most promising. Unfortunately, it turns out that landmines aren’t that cheap. Each landmine costs $3.

Three dollars doesn’t sound like a lot. But consider the calculations. Suppose you lay minefields along the entire border. And the minefield is at least 250 metres deep. And you keep a mine in every square metre. That means, protecting a kilometre worth of border works out to $3 x 250 m x 1000 m, or $750,000 a Kilometre, much more than the cost of protecting the coastline. To make things worse, there’s much more border than coastline. The cost just doesn’t work out. And knowing the Bangladeshis, they’d just send cows or donkeys or babies across the minefields until all the mines exploded and then they’d stroll across. No, mines aren’t worth it.

The inescapable conclusion is that it just works out cheaper to fortify the Bangladeshi coastline. Much as my racist nature delights in the thought that one day it will be possible to go to the Bangladeshi border, and point and laugh while Bangladeshis on the other side of the fence go ‘glub glub glub’, my free market fundamentalist instinct forces me to realise that it’s a waste of money. It’s tragic that racism and free market fundamentalism have to come into conflict, but such is life.

But honestly, you can’t get away from the fact that the Bangladeshis will invade no matter what if global warming happens, and we will then be stuck with all the Bongs without the Bongland. This is the exact opposite of the ideal situation – Bongland without the Bongs.

I have a plan to achieve this. It runs like this:

  1. Marwaris buy plantations in Africa with their substantial capital
  2. Marwaris also use their substantial capital to invest in building dikes all across the West Bengal and Bangladesh coastline, turning Bongland into a twenty-first century Netherlands
  3. Marwaris send all Bengalis (East or West) to Africa to work as indentured labour on plantations
  4. Banga is turned into the Marwari homeland, and becomes a paradise

Global Warming is not a disaster. It is an opportunity for the Maadoos to abandon their dry and barren ancestral home, and move to a new homeland which is rich and fertile. The Marwari nation shall triumph, and South Asia will finally gain an international financial centre.