Damage caused by cyclone to Sunderbans being assessed

Dhaka, Nov 11 – Cyclone Bulbul, which made landfall in the south-western part of Bangladesh near the Sundarbans, may have caused massive damage to the world’s largest mangrove forest, feared experts. The Bangladesh Forest Department (BFD) could not come up with a picture of the destruction by the cyclone to Sundarbans even a couple of days after.
The forest department on Monday started to assess the trail of destruction to the Sundarbans and its wildlife left by the severe Cyclone ‘Bulbul’.
Besides, BFD barred tourists from visiting the largest mangrove in the world temporarily to assess the damage caused to the forest.
Initially, the forest department said some camps, wooden pontoons, jetties and walkways were damaged in the cyclone. At least 63 camps under 16 stations in four regional offices of the BFD have started work in sundarbans, sources said.
Bulbul, with a ferocious wind speed of over 120 kilometres per hour (kmph), hit the south-western part of the forest, especially Satkhira range, Khulna range including Shoronkhola, and Dublarchar, leaving a trail of severe devastation.
“Trees, brunches of trees, some camps and jetties have been broken from their bases along the rivers. It will take a few days to find out the impact of the storm on the wildlife,” Moyeen Uddin Khan, Forest Conservator of Khulna told journalists on Monday.
He said we have banned tourists from visiting Sundarbans temporarily until the assessment is finished.
He said employees of 63 camps of the BFD have started work in Sundarbans to assess the trail of destruction left behind by Cyclone Bulbul.
He hoped Cyclone Bulbul has not caused much damage to the Sundarbans. But some areas of Sundarbans particularity Satkhira range, Khulna range, Shoronkhola, and Dublarchar may be affected more than others ranges.
In 2007, cyclone Sidr, which had a wind speed of 250 km per hour, wrought significant damage to the invaluable mangrove forest. 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. 10 bln.
“Due to the frequent cyclone, the country may lose some revenue from the country’s largest tourism sector Sundarbans,” said Khan adding that currently, the country gets revenue around to Tk 20mln from the sector every year.
According to forest department data, in last fiscal, at least 1.50000mln lakh to 1.7mln lakh people visited the largest mangrove forests.
Nur Alam Sheikh, convener of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon in Bagerhut district said he has visited several areas of the Sundarbans. But he could not give an exact description of the situation inside the forest.
“The situation there is very bad. After the assessment by the government, the real picture will come out,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bagerhat district administration cancelled the traditional ‘Rash Mela’ festival in Dublar Char in the Sundarbans area due to the cyclone Bulbul.
The three-day Rash Mela was scheduled for November 10 in Alorkol area of Dublar Char but this year it did not take place safety ground.
Pradip Basu, general secretary of the mela organising committee, said, they had taken all necessary preparation to celebrate the festival but due to the unfavourable weather, we had to cancel the mela. – Staff Reporter