POST TIME: 10 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 10 November, 2019 02:43:31 AM
Mangrove forest to bear the brunt
Staff Reporter, Dhaka

Mangrove forest to bear the brunt

Cyclone Bulbul, which made landfall in the south-western part of Bangladesh near the Sundarbans yesterday, may cause massive damage to the world’s largest mangrove forest, feared experts. Bulbul has a wind speed of around 120 km per hour and the speed is going to increase up to 130 km per hour during the time of the landfall. The cyclone made landfall right next to the forest yesterday and was battering the Sundarbans with its full force. This might cause severe damage to the flora and fauna of the forest, which is also the home to the Royal Bengal Tigers.

Cyclone Sidr, which had a wind speed of 250 km per hour, wrought significant damage in the invaluable mangrove forest in 2007. An estimate by Bangladesh’s forests department said one-fourth of the Sundarbans had been severely damaged by Sidr. In monetary terms, the damage was valued at more than Tk. 1,000 crore.

The government has already chalked out an evacuation plan for the tourist launches and passenger launches from the Sundarbans area ahead of the landfall. A total of 28 tourist launches and a number of fishing boats have been docked as the storm started intensifying from Friday night.

Fishermen with at least 600 fishing boats took shelter in Patharghata upazila near the Sundarbans. Some took shelter inside the canals of the Sundarbans. Officials said locals and fishermen could take shelter in cyclone centres located in Supoti, Hariatana, Adachai, Tola, Shapla and Andharmanik in and around the Sundarbans.

The Bagerhat district administration has also decided to cancel the traditional ‘Rash Mela’ festival in Dublar Char in the Sundarbans area, sensing the adverse impact of Cyclone Bulbul.

The three-day ‘Rash Mela’ was scheduled to be held on November 10 in Alorkol area of Dublar Char. However, this year it will not be held on grounds of safety, said Moinuddin Khan, chief forest officer of Khulna division.

Pradip Basu, general secretary of the ‘mela’ organising committee, said they have made all necessary preparations to celebrate the festival but they have been denied permission by the authorities due to the unfavourable weather. However, pujas and other religious programmes will be held on this occasion as in previous years, Basu told our correspondent.

Khan told The Independent they are anticipating damage to the Keora (Sonneratia apetala) forest of the Sundarbans. Describing the Sundarbans as Bangladesh's guardian angel, Khan said as far as storms and tidal waves are concerned, the Sundarbans is a saviour. “Had there been no Sundarbans, the cyclone would have caused more havoc in the southern districts.”

“By alleviating human suffering caused by the cyclone is naturally the top priority for international support, the salvation of the Sundarbans is also of great importance, as several hundred thousand people depend on the forest resources for their livelihoods,” said Khan.