Ramesh Susarla

Tsunami proofing of nine coastal districts to be taken up

300 hectares will be preserved and regenerated in Guntur Forest Circle A nursery of 10,000 saplings raised in October-November 2005

GUNTUR: Fast vanishing rare mangrove forest stretches confined to creeks in Andhra Pradesh coast will be protected through a three-year special programme under Andhra Pradesh Community Forest Management to be executed under World Bank funding.

Tsunami proofing of nine coastal districts of the State will be taken up at a cost between Rs.30 crores and Rs.50 crores under Community Based Eco Tourism and Tsunami Mitigation programme, beginning in the current financial year. Major stretches of mangrove forests in Krishna, Guntur, East Godavari, Nellore and Prakasam districts have been included under this programme.While 300 hectares will be preserved and regenerated in Guntur Forest Circle that is spread over Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore districts, 250 hectares each will be treated in Rajahmundry, Kakinada, Eluru and Vijayawada Forest divisions. "The basic motive of the scheme is to stop destruction of mangrove forests through land use conversion for various purposes," Guntur Circle Conservator of Forests D. Nalini Mohan told The Hindu .

Saving time

While the project has been sanctioned, the formal official proceedings are awaited. To save time and begin a pilot project, a nursery of 10,000 saplings was raised in October-November 2005 for transplantation during the current rainy season in Guntur district covering 5 hectares.

The three-phase scheme to protect mangroves and reservoir of rich biodiversity will involve forming Vana Samrakshana Samithis in fishermen communities, who currently occupy lands in the estuarine areas, and are in the preparatory phase, hence digging channels into the islands to let seawater come and stagnate there for the mangrove saplings to grow in nurseries.In the second phase sowing and transplantation of saplings will be done in the second year along with protecting them from the enemies of the nature. The mangrove is the most vulnerable fuel wood species and local communities are given incentives to protect them and also help in afforestation. "The survival rate is very low - about 40 per cent in mangroves, while investments go up to Rs.45, 000 per hectare," Mr. Mohan observed.