Chilika lake shoreline plantation devastated

Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, has borne the brunt of Phailin with its shoreline plantation shattered by strong gale and tidal surge.

Although a proper survey is yet to be conducted by the Forest Department to assess the loss, eye estimate reports said devastation of Chilika’s beautiful shoreline plantation was visible. More than 70 per cent of the forest situated on the edge of the water has been either uprooted or buried under thick sand cover.

“A 60-kilometre stretch between Nandala in Puri district and Arukhakuda in Khurda district had good vegetation. A stretch of 8-10 km in between was patchy. The reports, we have been receiving, suggests hundreds of plants were uprooted and sand-dunes formed in some places,” said B.P. Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer, of Chilika Forest Division.

The premises used by officials of the Chilika Forest Division are still cut off and normal assessment process could not be taken up.

According to the Forest Department, the coastline plantation, which acted as a shield, could have played a critical role in diminishing the impact of Phailin on villages situated on islands inside the lagoon.

Many villages inside Chilika especially under Krushnaprasad block have no connectivity to the mainland and these villages are not far off from Gopalpur of Ganjam district where landfall occurred. Although the villagers were shifted to safer places such as schools inside the Chilika, keeping in mind the severity of Phailin, anything could have happened. The plantation turned out to be a shock absorber in this natural calamity.

Regeneration of the shoreline forest and restoration of the thick vegetation would take some time. Till then people residing in villages on the sprawling Chilika would always keep their fingers crossed every time a storm brews over the Bay of Bengal.

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