Op-Ed: Restoring Lost Greenery A Herculean Task

By Ashutosh Mishra

Bhubaneswar: One of the biggest casualties of cyclone Fani has been the green cover of the areas hit by it. Destruction of trees in cities like Bhubaneswar and Puri has been massive, making large areas completely bare of any kind of foliage. The capital city, one of the greenest in the country, must have lost thousands of trees of all sizes. Some of these trees were pretty old and their replacement seems virtually impossible.

The cyclone has also taken a huge toll on wildlife sanctuaries like Chandaka and Konark-Balukhand situated in the backyard of Bhubaneswar and Puri respectively. Chandaka has always acted as the green lung of the state capital where pollution has been growing for past sometime, thanks to a massive increase in vehicular traffic and operation of stone crushers on its outskirts.

So Bhubaneswar has been lucky to have Chandaka in its backyard. The Nandan Kanan zoological park, one of the major tourist attractions of the state capital, was, in fact, carved out of Chandaka forest. This is the reason this park is rated as one of the most natural animal parks in the country.

So any loss of greenery in Chandaka is also bound to have its impact on Nandan Kanan which is already a victim of mindless construction activity around it. Environmentalists in the past have raised the issue of clearing of trees in the vicinity of Nandan Kanan for the construction of high rise apartments and the impact of the resultant heat on the park.

Chandaka sanctuary is not only an elephant habitat it is also home to several other species of wildlife. The animals cannot survive without tree cover and any destruction of the forest canopy would result in their straying out of their habitat and entering areas of human habitation.

As it is Chandaka has become notorious for elephant raids on human habitations around it. In the recent past these animals have also been found roaming residential colonies in the outer areas of the state capital. They have been destroying houses and blocking roads. The blow dealt to the sanctuary by cyclone Fani could result in an increase in this phenomenon.

Very soon we may even find gangs of monkeys, rendered homeless by the cyclone, raiding areas in Bhubaneswar. They have even otherwise been frequent visitors but now they would be more visible than ever in our balconies and on the top of our houses as hordes of them would be out of the forests scouring for food.

One can also imagine the plight of wild animals, especially spotted deer, in the Konark-Balukhand sanctuary. Herds of them had reportedly gone missing in the wake of the cyclone that has caused massive destruction to the area’s tree cover. Good news is that they have been traced and are reported to be safe but any such natural disaster has a long term impact on wildlife.

As the state counts its losses in the wake of Fani the authorities need to pay special attention to the destruction of greenery and try to find ways of restoring it.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)