Unabated infiltration and unchecked
land-grabbing by illegal settlers continue to invite disaster for still-intact
mangroves in Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary.
And to save the mangrove vegetation from
being exterminated entirely from the internationally-acclaimed Ramsar wetland
area, the need of the hour is to stop human interference of this nature.
It’s pertinent to note here that
Bhitarkanika which was in the tentative list of Unesco world heritage site
missed the World Heritage Site (WHS) tag in the natural properties category.
The mangrove eco-system was found deficient in the yardstick framed by
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which had assessed
Bhitarkanika on ground level in May last. Bhitarkanika, it is believed, failed
to meet with the natural property yardstick framed by the global body due to
the rampant human interference in the form of raising of prawn gherries and
cases of violation coastal regulation zone act
“It’s wakeup call for the forest
department after Bhitarkanika missed the World heritage site tag. Mangroves are
to be saved at any cost to protect state’s fragile coastal ecology. The illegal
human settlements, which still poses the foremost impediment for mangrove
conservation would have to be done away with”, asserted noted green activist Mr
“On 2005 year, the government has swung
into action to banish the illegal settlers. But that was abruptly stopped
purely on political consideration. It’s now high time that deportation move it
should be carried out irrespective of oppositions from various quarters. Both
the government at the state and centre should work in cohesion for expeditious
deportation of foreign national and plug the illegal immigration” Mr Mohanty
These illegal settlers, who are more than
one lakh in number, have set up their homes in and around the Bhitarkanika
national park and Mahanadi deltaic region, which was once covered with lush
greenery. The squatters have damaged the mangrove vegetation in the area.
Unless removed from the place, they spell doom for the mangrove cover, the
unique coastal vegetation, Mr Mohanty said.
The mangrove acts as a buffer against the
tidal surge during cyclonic disaster, he said.
The studies by authorities such as
satellite remote sensing centres and the Centre have pointed out that the
mangrove vegetation is fast becoming extinct following unabated man-made
onslaught by Bangla settlers. Unless unlawful settlers are flushed out in
accordance with foreigners act legal provisions, the very survival of mangrove
is at stake, he observed.
The infiltrators have not only converted
the mangrove areas into paddy fields but have are also carrying out prawn
cultivation in most of their villages. Places such as Jamoboo, Ramnagar, Gupti,
Batighar, Kharinasi, Dangmal and Talchua are glaring instances of what human
interference can do to Nature. The region in the seventies presented a scene of
lush greenery but now a mere shadow of the past greets the eyes. Hardly any
mangrove bush can be found in the area. Talchua, where around 30-odd
Bangladeshis settled down amid thick mangrove forest, has now turned into a
bustling rural township with more than 20,000 residents. In the process, the
mangrove remains an elusive commodity in Talchua.
Since Bangladesh is an independent
country, they can return to their homeland. If the country had been gracious
enough to shelter them, they had no right to ravage its natural resources like
a foreign invader, Mr Mohanty said, accusing the registered refugees for
encouraging their relatives from Bangladesh to move over to the mangrove areas.