BHUBANESWAR: With gale wind and tidal inundation threatening their very existence, fishermen communities on the shoreline of Chilika lagoon have taken to regenerating mangrove plantations which faced a wipe-out in the last decade and a half.
So far, mangroves over 40 hectare land in Puri’s Arakhakuda village, lying between the Bay of Bengal and the brackish water lagoon, have been re-introduced. While mangroves act as a bio-shield from natural calamities, Phailin had almost devastated last of the coastal plantations two years back, leaving the shoreline habitations exposed to nature’s vagaries.
Under Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP), the Government made a move to persuade villagers, mostly fisherfolks, to go for mangrove regeneration. The villagers played an active role in identification of the sites where the plantations were taken up. Importantly, locations outside forest areas were chosen for the exercise.
The ICZMP mounted a mangrove awareness campaign through 100 eco-clubs in schools which staged street plays and took part in poster campaigns and competitions to mobilise the fishermen communities.
“For the project, we also used GIS tools to survey suitable sites available for mangrove plantation in two stretches. At least 94.12 hectare land in Arakhakuda village was found to be feasible where the regeneration work is being taken up,” Project Director of ICZMP Ajit Kumar Patnaik said.
While the ICZMP had started working on creation of a mangrove nursery as part of its project in 2013, super cyclone Phailin prompted the Government to put the work on fast track. While the groundwork started in April-May last year, plantation began after the monsoon. As on date, several species including Bani, Rai, Sinduka and Garani have come up in 40-hectare patch in Arakhakuda.
While the plantation site, located between Bay of Bengal and the village, would serve as a bio-cushion against cyclone, it is expected to help improve the breeding and spawning ground for economic fish species. This could work as livelihood sources for the local fisherfolks because the illegal prawn farming practices had led to a decline in the fish catch.
Patnaik said a village committee has also been formed to carry out the plantation and maintenance with technical support from the ICZMP and volunteer organisations. A memorandum of understanding has also been signed with the committee so that transfer of funds is facilitated for the project. Buoyed by its success, ICZMP plans to replicate the model in other areas too.