News: Experts express concern over diversion of freshwater from Odisha’s Brahmani river :
• Environmentalists on Friday expressed concern over the massive diversion of freshwater from the Brahmani river basin, which could pose a grave threat to the famous mangrove vegetation in Odisha.
• Bhitarkanika is a notified Ramsar wetland and it spreads over 195 sq. km and is home to 62 mangrove species.
• The Bhitarkanika forests, the second largest mangrove ecosystem in the country. It is also the breeding place for endangered saltwater crocodiles.
• This mangrove is the protective barrier of the region against cyclones and tidal surges.
• The Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, which forms the boundary in the east, attracts the world’s largest population of olive ridley sea turtles for nesting.
• Without the mangroves, the Gahirmatha sanctuary will become a “marine desert” and lose its richness and diversity.
• Proportionate freshwater flow from the Brahmani river basin and the Kharasrota river keep the salinity level of the water along the shore down.
• The Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environmental pressure group, had drawn public attention to the excess water allocation for industries, which is likely to reduce freshwater discharge to the sea.
• The diversion of water would definitely lead to the depletion of the water table. It will affect the mangrove ecosystem of Bhitarkanika and its flora and fauna.
• After Farakka Barrage in West Bengal was commissioned, the Sundarbans mangrove forests were drastically affected.
• Mangroves are shrubs or small trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish water.
• Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees, also called halophytes, and are adapted to harsh coastal conditions.
• Leaves are thick and contain salt-secreting glands.
• They are confined to tropical and subtropical regions as they need high solar radiation to filter saline water through their roots.
• They have blind roots which are called Pneumatophores. These roots help these trees to respire in anaerobic soils.
• The seeds of Mangrove Forests trees germinate in the trees themselves before falling. This is called the Viviparity mode of reproduction.
Brahmani & Kharasrota river :
• It is formed by the confluence of the Sankh and South Koel rivers near Raurkela in Odisha.
• It is the second-longest river in Odisha after the Mahanadi.
• It’s a seasonal river that flows in Odisha.
• Sankh has its origins near the Jharkhand-Chhatisgarh border, near Netarhat Plateau.
• South Koel too arises in Jharkhand, near Lohardaga, on the other side of a watershed that also gives rise to the Damodar River.
• Together with the rivers Mahanadi and Baitarani, it forms a large delta before entering into the Bay of Bengal.
• The Kharasrota is a river that flows in the Odisha state of India. It is a tributary of the Brahmani River.
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