People enjoy under the coconut trees on the sands of Ramakrishna beach in Visakhapatnam. (DC)
VISAKHAPATNAM: AP forest department proposes to plant casuarina and palmyra trees all along Visakhapatnam Beach starting from Coast Battery to Bheemli, covering a distance of around 30 km.
This shelterbelt, with a row of trees facing the sea, will cushion the city from tropical cyclones. It will bring down temperatures during the summer season as well.
"This is a huge project that needs funds. Land acquisition is also a difficult task since reserve forest, open forest and some private lands are located along the stretch of the beach," conservator of forests K. Rama Mohan Rao told Deccan Chronicle on Friday. Rao said the proposed novel project will change the landscape of Visakhapatnam Beach.
District forest officer (DFO) Anant Shankar said the process has already begun. Shelterbelt blocks have been developed all along AP beach wherever possible.
He pointed out that casuarina and palmyra are two species extensively planted along the coast in cyclone and tsunami-prone areas to check wind velocity and bind the soil.
"Under Green Visakha project, Visakhapatnam Port Authority has released funds. AP Disaster Recovery Project (APDRP) also sanctioned some amount. Plantations along the beach will come up barely 100 meters from the sea front,’’ the DFO said.
Sources in forest department said World Bank had sanctioned 72 crore under APDRP for livelihood projects, including raising nurseries and plantations. Its objective is to cover 250 km of north coastal Andhra with a shelterbelt.
Noted environmentalist J.V. Ratnam pointed out that the shelterbelt concept had been launched after Divi Seema floods in 1977 and tsunami hit Visakhapatnam coast. "But the project did not make much headway. Now that cyclones have become frequent due to climate change, state government should take up this project seriously,’’ Ratnam said.
Another activist said trees along the beach also attract tourists, as seen under coconut trees planted on RK Beach recently.