Sunday, June 27, 2021

Coastal vegetation can’t be sacrificed for Puri airport’

Following an international airport proposed at Sipasarubali of Puri, nature lovers have raised pollution fear to coastal environment. As the spot near the beach is surrounded by mangroves and casuarinas and is home to rare species of turtles, red crabs, rabbits, foxes, small bears and wild cats, so nature lovers have a concern over possible degradation of biodiversity near here.  Moreover, the area is prone to cyclone and possible oceanic hazard to airport is there as well.

Though an airport is essential for promotion of tourism in Puri, nevertheless the ecology is of prime importance as the city has already suffered huge damages due to cyclones in 1999 and 2019.  Environmentalists blame the devastation of coastal forestry as cause of cyclonic disaster to Puri. Sources said, thousands of trees would be chopped off for development of the airport. “No doubt, Puri needs an airport for tourists’ promotion. It will help the national and international tourists to visit Puri. But the Government has to be cautious about costal vegetation,” said Prof Sundara Narayana Patro, president of the Orissa Environmental Society.

According to him, costal vegetation can never be sacrificed, as deforestation for project and noise pollution by flight might harm the biodiversity. He suggested a site at least five to six km away from the coast so that vegetation is preserved and ecological balance is maintained.

Citing example of 1999 Super Cyclone, Patro said that the Bhitarakalika wildlife sanctuary could be protected only because of dense mangrove where as deforested areas near the shore had suffered severe damages. The mangroves work as protective shield against cyclone, said Patro, adding that the ecology must be heeded first before moving for an airport as Puri is a storm-prone belt. Notably, a technical team of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had a spot verification on June 16 and conducted feasibility survey of the proposed air port regarding location, distance from shoreline, runway distance, wind speed, noise impact on the Jagannath Temple, costal regulations constraints, road communication, besides economic impact, etc.

27/06/21 Saroj Kumar Mishra/Pioneer

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