Mangrove forest, which is known as ‘Green Wall’ that protected the people of the coastal district from the devastation of cyclone Sidr, is shrinking fast, thanks to unmindful felling of trees and lack of effective conservation efforts.
When the cyclone Sidr hit the district in 2017, some 11.50 kilometers of embankment out of the total 407 km in Kalaparaupazila, were damaged totally while 207 km partially, and the portion got damaged that was damaged for having no forest, according to officials at Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) in the upazila.
On November 15, 2007, Cyclone Sidr struck the south-west coast of Bangladesh, killing some 3,000 people and causing extensive agricultural production losses, totalling near US$ 1.1 billion and affecting 2.3 million households
Although 11 years have passed by after cyclone Sidr hit the district, the authorities concerned could not take any initiative for protecting the mangrove forest, keeping the lives of local people under threat of natural disasters.
The BWDB officials said mangroves are getting wiped out as local people use firewood in brick kilns and cooking. Some are also building houses and fish enclosures on their lands by felling age-old trees.
During a recent visit to the coastal area of Kalapara, the UNB correspondent found an eight-km area on both sides of Madhukhali Lake under Mithaganj union a barren land though it was once filled with many century-old trees.
Locals alleged that some influential people recently cut down many century-old trees from the area to make some quick buck.
They said the role of Forest Department found mysterious as they are claiming that the forest adjacent Madhumati lake does not belong to the department though it took actions when anyone found involved in tree felling in the area over the last 50 years.
Abdul Jabbar, a resident of Purba-Madhukhali village, said, “He would have lost his houses attack and other assets to tidal surge had there been no mangrove forest along the embankment near the lake.”
Besides, the embankment stretching from Dhulasar, Kauerchar, Gangamati and Chapli Bazar to Khajura area may collapse any time as there is mangrove forest now.
Abdul Jalil Akon, chairman of Dhulasar union, said the forest adjacent to the embankment has depleted to half over the last 10 years.
AbulKahyer, executive engineer of Kalapara Water Development Board, stressed the need for coordinated efforts for protecting the mangrove forest and the embankment.
TanvirRahman, UNO of Kalaparaupazila, said actions will be taken in this regard once specific allegations are found.