VISAKHAPATNAM: The City of Destiny has been stripped off its green cover in the aftermath of landfall of cyclone Hudhud.
As against the green cover of about 40 per cent in the city spread over more than 600 sqkm, preliminary estimations revealed that at least 70 per cent of the trees in Visakhapatnam city including those on its scenic Eastern Ghats have been lost to the very severe cyclonic storm.
With winds speeding up to 200 kmph blowing across the coast for more than 10 hours, several large trees that grew for decades have been completely uprooted or got their branches broken as they could not stand the gales. Mangled branches could be seen everywhere blocking the roads, doorways, and every possible street in the city.
"I knew the city has lot of greenery but I never imagined that it was in such large extent. Notwithstanding the temporary damage done by the cyclone, the loss of trees can be considered as the long-term loss that we may not feel immediately," felt V Laksmi Prasanna, a software engineer from Chennai and working in Visakhapatnam.
The trees not only destroyed completely but damaged majority of the infrastructure including buildings, vehicles, electricity and telecommunication wires when trees fell on the latter.
The Eastern Ghats stood naked as the rocks were exposed to all after their green trees of upto 25 feet height were felled by the gales. "For a tree of 25 feet to grow, it would take anywhere between 7-20 years depending on their species. We have lost many medicinal and rare plants located on the Eastern Ghats.
It would take at least 7-8 years to witness healthy growth of trees in the region," said JV Ratnam, an environmentalist.
With the city losing its greenery, Visakhapatnam is facing a threat of industrial pollution. The Pollution Control Board officials pointed out that the city is placed among the top 10 most polluted cities in the country.
"As we lost most of the trees due to cyclone Hudhud, the pollution levels in the city will increase phenomenally," said a scientist at PCB.