Cyclone Sidr Damaged Sundarbans Seriously

Daily NewAge: Tapos Kanti Das
Khulna: May 28, 2009
Water surges whipped up by cyclone Aila that crossed over Sagar Island into India’s coastline on May 25 damaged the infrastructure of Sundarban before the mangrove forest could fully recover from the damage caused by cyclone Sidr, which ripped Bangladesh’s south on November 15, 2007.
The forest, shared with India, is home to 425 species of trees and herbs and 246 species of animals, including the Royal Bengal Tiger. Officials of the Sundarban west division said saline water had entered all the eight big and 14 small sweet water ponds, 20 jetties were damaged, partly or fully, and about 50 per cent of the wood seized by the forest department were washed away.
They said a number of furniture and a few objects were damaged in camps and stations of the division. The division has nine stations and 35 camps. The officials said water surges had also washed away wood seized earlier and damaged the jetty of the Kotka rest house, barracks at Dublar Char and the Shapla camp. They said the water surge had weakened most of the camps. The officials, however, said they were yet to receive reports on losses of trees and wildlife.
Sources in the forest department said Sidr had damaged the flora and fauna on about 30,000 hectares of land fully and on about 80,000 hectares partially, damaged 60 forest department jetties fully and 12 partially, blew over about 127 structures and ruined a pontoon at Neel Kamal fully. The department lost 55 vessels to the Sidr and the wireless system broke down fully when Sidr hit the forest. Saline water entered all the sweet water ponds.
The forest was recovering from the Sidr damage, all the jetties and structures were repaired, the ponds were freed of saline water and the damaged vessels were fixed, they said, but the wireless system was yet to be restored. A division official on Wednesday said they were carrying out an assessment to establish the extent of losses.
He said the damage caused by water surges on May 15 would be an additional burden before Sundarban could recover from the damage caused by Sidr. He said they were working to desalinate the sweet water pond on an emergency basis as they are the sources of drinking water for wildlife, inhabitants of the forest and the forest department people.

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