With mangroves in the Sunderbans having acted as a natural buffer against cyclone Aila, residents of three villages in the region have decided to plant them in 75 hectares on their own.
The villagers of Sonagaon, Mathurakhand and Amlamethi have understood that the only way to save their homes was to save mangroves in the Sunderbans and so they have begun planting mangroves from Sunday last without any financial support from the government, NGO Nature, Environment and Wildlife Society which is helping them with the project said.
"Aila had proved that we cannot bargain with the mangroves of Sunderbans. The cyclone could not destroy the riversides where there were mangroves, whereas the embankments without mangroves had been washed away," project coordinator of the NGO Ajanta Dey said.
According to official data, Aila had damaged 400 km of the 3,700 km embankments in the region. However, Dey claimed that the actual figure is 800 km.
Mangroves protect vulnerable embankments from tidal surges and act as a bio-shield against storms, cyclones and soil erosion, she said.