KOLKATA,13th November, 2008: Sunderbans, world’s largest mangrove forest located between Bangladesh and West Bengal, and the Ganges River are competing with some gorgeous natural heritage sites across the globe for the seven Wonders of Nature list.
Famous for its breathtaking beauty and the Royal Bengal Tiger, Sunderbans forest has carved a niche for itself when the mangrove was selected by New Seven Wonders Foundation after the selection of seven new wonders of the world last year, which included Taj Mahal.
Lying in the mouth of the holy Ganges, the Sunderban delta is composed of mangrove forests, swamps and forest island all interwoven in a network of small rivers and streams. It covers an area of approximately 10,000 square kilometers.
Altogether 400 places from different continents have been nominated primarily in the seven wonders nomination process which include 51 places (highest number of places) from South America, 31 Europe, 30 Asia, 27 North America, 19 Africa and 10 Oceania.
Voting is continuing through internet. “It is so exciting that out of 400 places which have been nominated primarily in the seven wonders nomination process, Sundarban and Ganges are on leading positions at this moment for Asia region,” an expert on Sunderbans afair reacted.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee cast his vote here at the Writers’ Buildings recently on the website www.new7wonders.com to nominate the Sunderbans and the holy Ganges as two of the seven ‘Global Wonders of Nature’.
Tushar Kanjilal, secretary of Tagore society for Rural Development, was also present at the state secretariat along with Sunderbans Development Minister Kanti Ganguly and Irrigation Minister Subhas Naskar.
“The Chief Minister took the first step and we request people from both West Bengal and across the country to vote for the Sunderbans and the Ganges to enlist them in the seven new natural wonders’ list. These are multinational nominees and it needs both India and Bangladesh to officially support it,” Ganguly said.
Ganguly said, “We have already formed a supporting committee to champion the cause and we are trying to promote it in a manner to appeal to people in India and Bangladesh to vote for these two heritage sites. In fact three because Cox’s Bazar beach, the largest sea beach of the world, has also found place in the nominated site out of 158 natural places of the world so far.”
The global voting platform, which is conducting the poll, is promoted by the New Seven Wonders Foundation that included the Taj Mahal in its list of seven man-made wonders last year. The foundation was set up by Swiss-born Canadian film maker-explorer Bernard Weber. The platform selects the wonders on the basis of nomination committees in each country and only one nomination from each country is finalised in the last lap of the race.
The Ganges was at the seventh position, while the Sunderbans was tenth, as per current voting on the website. The voting will continue throughout 2010 and into 2011 when the results will be declared. Ganguly further said a nomination committee from Bangladesh had approached the state government to support the Sunderbans, as the forest cover vast areas of both India and Bangladesh.
“I know the process and we have yet to see many ups and downs in the position so far but if we all keep on voting for Sundarbans, Ganges and Cox’s Bazar, we should be in good standing till the end. Voting in the internet is fun and it should be more fun doing it for our heritage sites,” said student of Calcutta University Divya Malik.
“Everyone must log on to the following link and cast their valuable votes to earn the title for natural wonders. That way we will be able to boast of another Wonders of the Modern World, the first one was the Taj Mahal,” said an elated college student.
The Sundarbans features a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests. The area is known for its wide range of fauna, with the Royal Bengal tiger being the most famous, but also including many species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes.
It is already a UNESCO World Heritage site and was designated a Ramsar site on May 21, 1992. It was also nominated as one of the New seven Wonders of the world, along Taj though didn't make to the final 14.Some other prominent natural heritage sites in the race include Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Phillipines, Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Chocolate Hills in Phillipines, Al-Ahsa Oasis in Saudi Arabia, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National park in Vietnam and Fansipan Mountain in Vietnam.