Odisha has lost 9 sq km of mangroves forest between 2011 and 2013, says the biennial assessment of Forest Survey of India (FSI).
Mangrove forest covered an area of 213 sq km in four districts in 2013, compared to 222 sq km in 2011.
Of 213 sq km, 82 sq km was found to be a dense mangrove, while 88 sq km was moderately dense. The survey found 43 sq km as open mangrove.
Kendrapara has largest area (183 sq km) covered under mangrove forest followed by Bhadrak with 21 sq km. Jagatisnghpur and Balasore have 7 sq km and 2 sq km area of mangrove forest. Kendrapara also boasts of having all 82 sq kms of very dense mangrove forest under its jurisdiction.
Between 2011 and 2013, Kendrapara lost 4 sq km, while mangrove denudation in Bhadrak and Balasore was 2 sq km each. The FSI report says Puri district is left with no mangrove forest. Puri lost 1 sq km during this period.
FSI reports that mangroves occupy an area of 4,628 sq km area in India accounting for nearly three per cent of the world's mangrove vegetation. Sundarbans in West Bengal accounts for almost half of the total area under mangrove cultivation in the country. The total loss of mangroves in India was assessed at 34 sq km.
“The latest report released by the Centre has come as a shock for us. It is believed that active prawn mafia backed by powerful local politicians denuded mangroves for conversion into illegal shrimp farms,” said Biswajit Mohanty, an environmentalist.
During the past 24 years, ever since FSI started estimating green cover, Odisha added merely 14 sq km of mangroves, which is touted as bio-shield against cyclonic storm.
“Despite announcements by the State government that massive mangrove plantation drive would be taken up after Super cyclone in 1999, it has miserably failed to conserve existing mangrove forests. Huge funding support from the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme funded by World Bank and Central government’s cyclone restoration funds could not help increase the area of mangroves,” Mr. Mohanty further said.