Comprehension Exercise – 30

Comprehension Exercise – 30

Creative Writing – 85

Study the write-up and answer the questions that follow

Article sourced from ‘Outlook India’

In 2003, a prominent business house of India, submitted an ambitious plan to the government of West Bengal proposing the creation of an enormous new tourism complex in the Sundarbans. Although the details of the plan have not been made available to the public, the broad outlines are described on the promoter’s website. According to the site, the project will include many different kinds of accommodation, including ‘5-star floating hotels, high-speed boathouses, land-based huts, luxury cottages and an ‘eco-village’. Landing jetties are to be built and the project is to be serviced by hovercraft and helicopters.

The total cost of the project will be somewhere in the region of six billion rupees (155 million US dollars). In short an industrial house that has no special expertise in ecological matters is proposing a massive intervention in an area that is a designated World Heritage site and Biosphere Reserve.

The precise status of the project is not clear. For a while, to the dismay of environmentalists everywhere, it was thought that the West Bengal government had already given the project the go-ahead. But recent statements issuing from Writer’s Building suggest that the authorities are currently re-evaluating the promoter’s proposal. This is a welcome development, not least because it provides an opportunity for a public discussion of the project and its merits.

To begin with, it is worth asking whether the project is feasible even on its own terms. What for example, are the chances of converting a stretch of the Sundarbans into an arena for water sports and a haven for beach lovers? This an area of mud flats and mangrove islands. There are no ‘pristine beaches’ and nor are there any coral gardens. The Ganges-Brahmaputra river system carries eight times as much silt as the Amazon and the waters of this region are thick with suspended particulate matter. This is not an environment that is appropriate for snorkeling or scuba diving. In the water visibility is so low that snorkelers and scuba divers would scarcely be able to see beyond their masks. What is more, these waters are populated by estuarine sharks and marine crocodiles. A substantial number of villagers and fishermen fall prey to these animals every year. Snorkelers and divers would face many dangers and in the event of fatalities the promoters and the West Bengal Government would be liable to litigation.

Even swimming is extremely hazardous in the Sundarbans. The collision of river and sea in this region creates powerful currents, undertows and whirlpools. Drownings are commonplace and boats are often swamped by the swirling water. Swimmers who accidentally ingest water would face another kind of hazard. Consider for example the experience of an American woman who visited the Sundarbans in the 1970s: she dipped her finger in a river and touched it briefly to her tongue, to test its salinity. Within a short while she developed crippling intestinal convulsions and had to be rushed to hospital. Bacteria and parasites are not least among the many life forms that flourish in the waters of the Sundarbans.

The location the promoter has chosen for its project lies across the entrance to the Hooghly River, in the vicinity of Sagar Island. This spot has the advantage of commanding direct access to the Bay of Bengal while also being easily accessible from Kolkata. But, when the weather is taken into account, these apparent pluses are quickly revealed to be an uncompounded tally of minuses. A quick glance at a map is all it takes to see that the chosen location is directly exposed to the weather systems of the Bay of Bengal. What would happen if the complex were to find itself in the path of an incoming cyclone?

The Bay of Bengal is one of the most active cyclonic regions in the world: two of the most devastating hurricanes in human history have been visited upon the coast of Bengal, in 1737 and 1970. Each of these cyclones claimed over 300,000 lives, a toll higher than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The toll might have been higher still if not for the the Sundarbans. The mangrove forests have historically absorbed the first shock of incoming cyclones: they are the barrier that protect the hinterland. This is why the people who live in this region have generally been wary of creating settlements that abut directly on the sea.


a) Pick the correct option.

i) The promoter wanted to
1. Convert West Bengal to be a major tourist hub
2. Provide luxury facilities for the poor people of the Sundarbans
3. Create an enormous tourism complex in the Sundarbans

ii) The project seems to be problematic because
1. The promoter has no experience in the field
2. The place is designated World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve
3. The project is going to cost Rs. six billion

iii) The idea of making it a swimming paradise is not feasible because
1. There are no ‘pristine beaches’ and nor are there any coral gardens.
2. The water is too muddy as the water of the Ganga and Yamuna bring in a lot of suspended soil and make the water muddy
3. The waters have sharks and crocodiles who may attack the swimmers.

iv) The most dangerous thing about the idea of a tourist complex is
1. Its proximity to Kolkata
2. It being situated on the entrance to the Hooghly river
3. Its vulnerability to occasional severe cyclonic storms

v) We shouldn’t do anything in the Sundarbans area because
1. The place experiences devastating cyclones at times killing thousands of people
2. The floods can destroy the tourist facilities
3. The mangroves must not be tampered with because they hold back the sharp winds to some extent.

b) One-mark questions. Be brief with your answers.

1. What is the Writer’s Building?
2. Why drinking water from the Andaman’s streams can be dangerous?
3. What is the likely investment in the mega-Andamans project?
4. What role the government of West Bengal has on the project?
5. What causes the waters in the Andamans to be so turbulent?
6. Who gave the idea of developing the Andamans as a tourist spot.

c) Two marks questions. Answer in 25 to 30 words.

1. Why the idea of a tourism project in the Andamans is flawed?
2. Why the waters in the Andamans rivers and rivulets muddy?
3. What other dangers are posed to the water sports enthusiasts?

d) Give a title to the article and subtitles to its different main points.
e) Write a summary of the article in 100 words.

Related Posts

    Do you plan to write Civil Service, or Management entrance examinations? Do you want to be an outstanding lawyer or a journalist, or an author? If so, you need impeccable English writing skills. We will build your skills step by step. Follow our blog daily. For more help, write to us through our mail id -
    Notify of
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x