Kendrapara, Nov 18 (LocalWire): Unauthorized buildings have been constructed by razing mangroves illegally in Bhitarkanika National Park blocking water channels.
Encroachments and illegal construction violating the Coastal Regulated Zone (CRZ) Act in the mangrove forest surfaced last month after locals urged the forest officials to demolish the illegal structures.
‘Forest officials should now take steps to save the mangrove forests from encroachers and recover forest land by demolishing the illegal structures,’ said Hemant Rout an environmentalist and secretary of Gahiramatha Marine Turtles and Mangrove Conservation Society, Kendrapada.
He also alleged that large-scale felling of mangrove trees by well-organised gangs of encroachers have threatened the existence of green cover at Talachua and Ramanagar within the park where encroachers are hand-in-glove with unscrupulous forest and revenue staff.
Despite the forest officials strictly warning against felling trees, mangroves continue to be chopped to make way for illegal buildings in Bhitarkanika, said Bhabani Mandal, a retired school teacher of Ramanagar.
The mafia not only destroyed natural resources but also illegally occupied forest land after clearing the forest cover, added Mandal.
‘Officials are gathering details about unlawful occupation in Bhitarkanika. We will soon demolish the illegal buildings and take legal action against them,’ said the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Bhitarkanika National Park, Bikash Ranjan Dash.
Locals and traditional fishermen mustered courage to fight the encroachers to save the coastal ecology.
Mangrove forests provide a formidable natural barrier against cyclones and storm surges and play an important part in stabilising the shoreline.
They also serve as nesting and breeding grounds for various terrestrial, arboreal, benthic and aquatic organisms.
‘The mangroves contribute immensely to the growth of estuarine fishery resources besides yielding timber, firewood, honey and medicines,’ said Sudhanshu Parida an environmentalist and the secretary of the district unit of Peoples for Animal.