MGNREGS Cell of North 24- Parganas in collaboration with Sunderbans affairs department has taken up mangrove plantation to prevent soil erosion and protect river banks in Sunderbans areas, which has assumed alarming proportions since Cyclone Aila hit the belt.
Mangrove plantation is under way on the banks of Raimangal and Kalindi rivers spread across two blocks of North 24-Parganas - Hingalganj and Sandeshkahli II - where vast areas of farm land were devastated due to high salinity after Aila hit the areas, resulting in massive livelihood loss. The plantation is on 8.64 hectares of land near the river embankment to protect the coastal zones from erosion.
Mangroves will maintain coastal water quality, preserve the ecosystem and protect the coastal zones besides providing livelihood to thousands of people living along the coast, district magistrate of North 24-Parganas, Manmeet Kaur Nanda, said. Many mangrove belts along the coast are severely degraded or have completely disappeared after Aila blew over the area in 2009. The project, named Greenline, was launched three months ago under the rural employment guarantee scheme cell.
Under the MGNREGS the task of restoring the protective mangrove cover to the coastal ecosystem has been put right in the hands of the local people living in the blocks, said Nanda.
MGNREGS cell of North 24-Parganas mooted the proposal for plantation of mangrove trees which, apart from preventing soil erosion, serve as a natural barrier to storm, hurricane, waves and floods, she said. A large number of unemployed youth and women living in the area will earn their livelihood by tending the trees through MGNREGS, which brings them over 15,000 man days.
Residents of Kalitala gram panchayat have been entrusted with seed collection from the deep forest of Sunderbans. Seeds were collected early in August this year and were planted in early October. Around 70,000 seeds were collected from the deep forest in the Sunderbans near the Bangladesh border, which has a lush mangrove forest even now.
Seeds were planted on 2.4 hectares of land in Hangalganj block at 10 locations and on 6.24 hectares on Sandeshkhali II block at 26 locations. The MGNREGS Cell of North 24-Parganas will spend more than Rs.70,000 on each location of mangrove cultivation and restoration. More than Rs.25 lakh has been earmarked for the scheme.
Mangrove forests maintain coastal water quality and provide nursery areas for fish and homes to other animal species, Pranab Sangui, district nodal officer of MGNREGS Cell said.