Bhubaneswar: The mangrove forest, covering over 250 sq km, helped Odisha withstand yet another cyclone.
Cyclone Yaas, that made landfall near Balasore last month, could have unleashed more damage in the state had it not been for the mangroves standing firmly along the coastline as a protective shield against nature’s fury.
Odisha Environment Society president Dr S N Patra and general secretary Dr Jayakrushna Panigrahi agreed that the mangroves have been protecting the state from high velocity cyclones like Yaas.
They suggested that the government should form an expert committee to identify locations along the state’s 480-km coastline where more mangroves could be grown to minimize impact of future cyclones.
The Indian Meteorological (IMD) said the role of mangroves could not be downplayed and that the intensity of cyclones is minimized due their presence along the coastline. The Bhitarkanika National Park, which has been witness to seven major cyclones in the last two decades, is an example of how human habitation around it has escaped major damages.
The mangroves act as a buffer zone in protecting human settlements. The Yaas Cyclone has not devastated flora and fauna of the park.
It may be mentioned that the Super Cyclone in 1999 had unleashed massive destruction in Jagatsinghpur because of less density of mangroves. Kendrapada, on the other hand, could withstand the severe cyclonic storm as the coastline was dotted with a thick wall of mangroves.
Researcher Debi Priyadarshini said as green cover has dwindled over the years, the government should carry out replantation in the region to save it from natural calamities.
According to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Shashi Paul, a target for taking up plantation over 1000 hectares in the next three years has been planned, of which 280 hectares will be taken up this year.