The Andhra Pradesh Forest Department has prepared the ground to restore nearly 300 hectares of salt marshy land and restoration of mangrove and mudflat ecosystems along the State’s coastline under the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund (GCF).
Sanctioned in 2019, the GCF was supposed to be grounded in Andhra Pradesh. However, the preparations to launch the mission of the GCF have reportedly been completed recently.
The UNDP has granted ₹298 crore for the six-year project through which coastal communities would be roped in for protection and restoration of the respective ecosystem including mangroves and marshy lands in three States — Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Maharashtra.
As many as 25 landscapes have been identified in the three States. Nine of them are in Andhra Pradesh, where the local communities would be provided employment opportunities and roped in for protection and restoration of their respective landscape.
Nowpada Swamp, Chintapalli coastal belt, Coringa Widlife Sanctuary, Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary, Bantumilli wetlands, Pulicat Lake and Nelapattu Sanctuary on the Andhra coast will be covered under the project.
A senior official associated with the implementation of the GCF in Krishna and Godavari region, requesting anonymity, told The Hindu that the project is likely to be grounded any moment. “We have already prepared the ground and listed out the tasks of the project to restore the mangrove ecosystem in the Krishna and Godavari region.”
A.P. is blessed with 405 sq km of mangrove forest cover which is 8.11% of the country’s mangrove cover, according to Indian State of Forest Cover (ISFR) Report-2021.
A total area of 213 sq km of mangrove cover is moderately dense, mostly in the Krishna and Coringa covers. The total open mangrove cover is 192 sq.km.
Over the past five years, the mangrove cover has been facing severe threat from various illegal activities, mostly for production of ID liquor. Scores of ID liquor production units have been detected in the heart of the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary alone in the Godavari estuary since 2019.
Since 2010, the Andhra Pradesh wetlands have caught the nation’s attention thanks to proposals for setting up coal-based thermal power projects in the North Andhra region, diversion of Kakinada mangroves for government housing sites and destruction of Kakinada mudflats.
In all the above proposals, the local communities waged battles and succeeded to protect the respective ecosystems from the proposals.
The indiscriminate destruction of the mangroves for aquaculture in the Godavari and Krishna regions have also posed a major threat that would likely be addressed and compensated by restoring those habitations. At the receiving end are the Yanadi tribe in the Krishna region and fisherfolk in the Godavari region.
In a recent judgment, the National Green Tribunal has directed the Andhra Pradesh Maritime Board and GMR Group to restore the Kakinada (Kumbabhisekham) mudflat and conserve it for five years as it was destroyed to pave way for the shifting of the barge-mounted power plant. “It is high time that the Andhra Pradesh government grounded a robust conservation plan for wetlands which supports many endangered and migratory bird species,” observed ornithologist K. Mrutyunjaya Rao.