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Bhitarkanika- prawn dykes dismantled for mangrove regeneration / news

Bhitarkanika national park authorities have reclaimed nearly 15 acres of encroached government land lying on the fringe of swampy mangrove forest from unauthorized occupation of prawn farmers.

The encroached patches were made encroachment free and 15 illegal prawn gheries each measuring an acre of land was demolished. The state forest department has registered case against the land grabbers under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Act.

 “The reclaimed patches are being taken up for mangrove regeneration programme so that prawn farmers would not reoccupy the encroachment-free areas. The mangrove plantation work would begin within a week”, said Assistant Conservator of Forest, Pradosh Patnaik.

The department has undertaken a drive to demolish the prawn dykes that have unlawfully sprouted up either in forest areas or in CRZ patches. After the areas are cleared, mangroves are going to be regenerated on a war footing on those denuded patches, he added.

The reclaimed areas are conducive for mangrove regeneration as there is regular inflow of tidal waters.

Since past two years, the department has succeeded in regenerating mangrove species in about 300 hectares of denuded area. These areas, once ravaged by prawn farming, are now having luxuriant look of lush-green mangrove species.

The state forest department is ready with funds sanctioned under Management Action Plan for Mangroves and Integrated Coast Zone Management Plan for mangrove regeneration, said forest officials.

The scheme would be extended to other deforested areas in phased manner and this would go a long way in arresting the encroached mangrove cover in Mahanadi deltaic region of the Bhitarkanika national park, he remarked.

Conceding the fact that similar exercise undertaken in past has not been entirely successful in checking the mangrove degradation, he said the eviction drive is being launched in a well-oiled manner this time. A task force comprising senior and experienced forest protection officials has been constituted. Besides public awareness is being generated on the mangrove protection and residents of nearby villagers are beginning to realize that mangrove is a time-tested natural barrier against tidal surge and cyclones.

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