With more than 80 different species of mangrove trees, the flora grows in regions where there is less oxygen in the soil and slow moving water. But due to the Amphan (cyclone) the Sunderbans in West Bengal are affected badly.
The mangrove flora includes all the types of shrubs, climbers, herbs and even wild green lives. They are of great importance to the mankind and have protected the humans from various dangers from water and other known threats.
The mangroves serve as friends to living beings and thus they must be protected. The government should take initiative for stepping into the techniques of more plantations of the mangrove trees.
The Natural Buffers of Environment and Dangers to Them
Spread with over 22 or more species in thousands hectares passing the 300 km of concrete embankments, the mangroves not only reduce the wind speed drastically but also break the waves during the storm.
Pichavaram mangroves that can be found in shrinking Cauvery delta in Tamil Nadu act as the modest and natural carbon sink in the winter season. The trees store carbon underground. If these trees are degraded the stored carbon will be lost. Various factors affect the carbon-storing potential and capacity of the mangroves which include changes in temperature, rainfall, salinity and freshwater.
The large mangrove forests are known as the sinks for carbon and also the sources of various greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous-oxide. But according to various experts, researchers, and environmentalists the carbon sink capability of the mangrove forests may decline in the future because of the rising temperature, changes in tidal patterns, variations in salinity, decreasing rainfall, deforestation and lackness of freshwaters.
The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) will be affected badly for an 8-lane Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway. Thus, the result is that for creating artificial infrastructures the natural carbon sinkers are destroyed every year. The mangroves buffer the vulnerable coastlines from several years when it was built over 10,000 years ago with over 80 tropical and sub-tropical mangroves.
Affect of Amphan on Sunderban Mangrove Belt in India
The Sunderbans mangrove belt stretches for about 10,000 sq. km across the coast of Bangladesh and India. Sunderbans forest is a complicated yet rich system of hundreds of rivers, centuries of history, millions of lives and abundance of biodiversity. Kalbaisakhi winds add to the terror tales among the folks.
The state of West Bengal has witnessed something like Amphan in a period of at least 100 years. Even one of the wish-fulfilling trees, kalpvriksha, ancient Olea cuspidate at the Indian Botanic Garden, Howrah, lied uprooted. Even the century old tree cannot withstand the vital force of Amphan. Thus, the tree is the metaphor for everything that has been lost in this dangerous cyclone on May 20, 2020 in the middle of the pandemic.
With Amphan not only the mangrove trees are lost but also the livelihood of people depended on the mangroves for their food and shelter has ended. The fishery, wildlife occupation has suffered a lot. Everything has to be started from scratch now.
The four blocks of western Sunderbans block near the landfall site – Sagar, Patharpratima, Namkhana, and Kakdwip are most damaged by the cyclone. The various embankments that were built to prevent the surging waves have all been collapsed.
Amphan has not only damaged the infrastructure in the middle of a pandemic but also has severely made people homeless and affected the livelihood and small businesses like honey collectors, fishermen, to a large extend.
Plans for Redevelopment
Recently Honorable Chief Minister of West Bengal Ms Mamta Banerjee has set up an ambitious target of planting 5 crore mangrove trees in the Sunderbans.
As the plans for restoration and redevelopment are made it is of much importance that as two countries we do not lose the sight of the ecological security of mangrove ecosystem. Sunderbans is at great risk so in this case both government and non-government institutions can lend help and can plan bio-plot technique of restoration together admist this never ending pandemic. By donating funds to the West Bengal government, to NGOs like DISHA, etc. one can help in the social cause and good doings.
Sitting here far away from the incident place, I can only make a wish to Bonbibi -the supreme protector of Sunderbans and the vanquisher of the evil king Dakhin Rai, worshipped by all Hindus and muslims both in India and Bangladesh and also across borders to cast a magic or bless the Sunderbans with your miracles.
Author: Anjali Lavania
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