Paradip: Vulnerability of human settlements where standing trees were felled for acquisition land for the now-winded-up Posco steel project near Paradip lie thoroughly exposed to possible tidal surge with apprehension of cyclone Titli looming large to strike the coastal pockets.
The tree cover has been virtually wiped out from the thickly populated Noliasahi and Polang villages under Erasama tehsil in Jagatsinghpur district. However afforestation programme to compensate the loss of tree cover was conspicuous by its absence. As a result, the forest clearance has exposed the project villages to vagaries of storm following absence of compensatory tree plantation activity. The lush green cover was acting as natural barrier to protect the seaside villages from the scourge of tidal ingress.
With the forest cover almost wiped out along the strategic Jatadhari river mouth, ingress of tidal water surge into the denuded forest areas has become a routine feature. The standing trees were earlier acting as natural buffer in plugging the inflow of tidal water into village areas, according to local residents.
“We are panicked a lot. If the cyclone strikes in its ferocity, our villages are destined to come under watery submergence. The trees were preventing the waves from advancing into villages. But the trees were indiscriminately cut down. If the cyclone Titli ravages our areas, then it will be man-made one”, said a a local of Polang village, Harihar Das.