Tropical Severe Super Cyclone Amphan Effects on Coastal Plant Diversity of East Midnapore District, West Bengal
Bishnupada Jana1*, Amal Kumar Mondal1
1 Botany and Forestry, Amal Kumar Mondal , Vidyasagar University, Midnapore, India.
Present research deals with the effects of deadly Amphan super cyclone on plant diversity in the East Midnapore coastal belt. Super tropical cyclone Amphan made landfall near Bakkhali in 24 Parganas in West Bengal and affected the total coastal area of West Bengal. East Midnapore district Ramnagar-I & II, Contai-I, Deshpran, Khejuri-II, Nandigram-I, Sutahata Block, and Haldia municipality are the affected areas. Khejuri –II and Nandigram-I block were damaged remarkably. In those two blocks, most old trees were broken, uprooted, or both. Significant loss of plant diversity was occurred by this severe super cyclone. Still, the most predicted point for the landfall of Amphan Digha under Ramnagar-I block was affected in minimum level. It was noted that throughout the Midnapore coastline, manmade vegetation was damaged maximum. Mainly Casuarina and Eucalyptus trees were affected very much. Trees were more damaged rather than shrubs and herbs. Mangrove plants just in front of the sea line were destroyed less than backside manmade terrestrial vegetation.
Keywords: Amphan super cyclone, Plant diversity, Landfall, Manmade vegetation, Casuarina, Eucalyptus
The coastal area of East Midnapore district is made up of 8 blocks, namely Ramnagar –I & II, Contai-I, Deshpran, Khajuri-II, Nandigram-I, Haldia municipality, and Sutahataand it occupies 27 % (near about 60KM) of the entire coastline of West Bengal extending from Digha To bank of Rupnarayan river curving Sankarpur, Mandarmoni, Junput, Ruslpur, Khejuri, Nandigram and Haldia (Mandal et al., 2013). East Midnapore coastal belt is rich in biodiversity with its own vegetation and exotic species, which have been natural vegetation adapting coastal environment. Coastal vegetation significantly protects coastal lines from erosion and protects lives from various cyclonic damage and socio-economic status. Also, this coastal area is the treasury of ethnomedicinal plant species (Romero-Martínez et al., 2021). Coastal vegetation is an ecosystem rich in genetic diversity with high environmental value (Banerjee, 1994; Untawale, 1994). Besides, the species play an essential role in protecting the coast from flooding and erosion (Desai, 2000).
Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan was a powerful and deadly tropical cyclone that led to extensive damage in Eastern India, particularly West Bengal, and Bangladesh on May-20, 2020. It was the most robust tropical cyclone to strike the Ganga Delta since Sidr of the 2007 season and the first super cyclonic storm formed in the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 Odisha cyclone and the 3rd super cyclone that hit West Bengal since 1582, after 1737 and 1833 (“Amphan: Cyclone wreaks deadly havoc in India and Bangladesh”, 2020; Nandi and Thakur, 2020; Bose, 2020). Amphan is also the costliest cyclone recorded in the North Indian Ocean, surpassing the record held by Cyclone Nargis of 2008, causing over US$13 billion of damage (Sud and Rajaram, 2020). Cyclone affected coastal areas in West Bengal, including East Midnapur, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Kolkata, Hooghly and Howrah, and Odisha. It also caused significant destruction in Bangladesh (“Cyclone devastates Kolkata and leaves scores dead”, 2020). Around 5:30 p.m. IST (12:00 UTC), Amphan made landfall as a Very Severe Cyclonic storm near Bakkhali, West Bengal, with winds of 100 mph (155 km/h) on 20th May 2020 (“In pictures: Cyclone Amphan hits India and Bangladesh”, 2020). As further moving inland, it quickly weakened. Just six hours after landfall, the JTWC (Joint Typhoon Warning Center) downgraded it to a Category 1-equivalent cyclone and issued its final warning on the system as it became disorganized (“Tropical cyclone 01B (Amphan) Warning Nr 018”, 2020).
Although Amphan severe super cyclone directly hit Bakkhali and the whole coastal area of South 24 Parganas and caused massive damage, the coastal belt of East Midnapore was also affected dangerously, especially Khejuri, Nandigram, and Deshpran block. Most trees were broken or uprooted, even big trunks of old trees in Khejuri –I and II, Nandigram –I, Deshpran block had been crushed, most of the manmade casuarinas and Eucalyptus plants were uprooted. Mangrove patches at estuary points were also affected, leaves, branches, flowers, and fruits were crushed, and large-scale damage happened. Due to the high speed of the Amphan, most plants throughout the coastline were leafless.
Aims and objectives
The aims and objective of this research were as follows –
The study area included the total coastal belt of East Midnapore district covering Ramnagar-I (RAM-I) & II (RAM-II), Contai-I (CON-I), Deshpran (DES), Khejuri –II (KHE-II), Nandigram-I (NAN-I) blocks. Ramnagar –I & II, Contai-I, Deshpran, Khejuri-II, and Nandigram-I blocks are more important due to the direct attachment of the Bay of Bengal. 6 studied obstructions and the range of damage were shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Study areas
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Field survey and field study are two methods that were applied to construct this article. From 21-05-2020 to 28-05-2020, a continuous field study was conducted from ground zero level. Each coastal block was thoroughly investigated by motorcycle. Direct observation of floral damage and due attention on biodiversity loss was maintained to understand coastal vegetation's damage range better. All procedures were conducted under the supervision of the Ph.D. guide. Nicon Cool Pix L120 camera and German eTrex GPS detecting instrument were handled for proper data collection. Notable specimens were collected, making herbarium specimens for further reference.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Severe super cyclone Amphan hit near Bakkhali, South 24 Parganas, and caused a great spoil of diversity. It also damaged the massive loss of biodiversity in the East Midnapore coastal belt. At Kendiamari, Nakchirachar, Gangra and Gangra Jalpai of Nadigram, Khejuri proper, Arakbari, Hijli (Nichkasba) of Khajuri, Petuaghat, Kanaichatta and Bankiput of Despran, Junput and Buguranjalpai of Contai-I, Mandarmoni of Ramnagar-II, Sankarpur and Digha of Ramnagar-I were investigated properly. In Nandigram and Khejuri, the effect of the super cyclone was horrible. Most of the trees were leafless, the tree trunk was crashed, and most Eucalyptus trees were uprooted; Casuarina trees at Khejuri, Hijli, Bankiput, Junput Tajpur, and Sankarpur were broken and uprooted terrifically. Point to be noted that manmade emerged vegetation (Table 2) were damaged highly, and natural mangrove and mangrove associates vegetation (Table 3) of the coast were less damaged. The block-wise record was discussed here, and also block-wise damage of vegetation (%) was shown in Table 1, and graphical representation of damage (%) was given in Figure 4.
Nandigram –I block: Kendiamari, Nakchirachar, Gangra and Gangja Jalpai were studied to cover the bank of Haldi River under Nandigram –I block. The maximum portion of the study area is covered by fisheries reducing natural biodiversity, but Gangra and Jalpai Gangra bear a forest belt. Most of the trees were mashed and crashed, especially manmade vegetation was damaged more. Mangrove, mangrove associates, shrub, and herbs were affected less. 75% of manmade and 15% of natural herbs and shrubs were destroyed.
Khejuri-II block: Boga, Hijli, Arakbari, and Khejuri proper were the subject of study plots. Plant diversity under this block was much more affected by Amphan. 40-50% of the trees of Khejuri proper were damaged. Most of the Casuarina plants near the coastline were either uprooted or crushed. At Hijli, nearly 50% of Casuarina plants was damaged, but surprisingly, mangrove patches and natural dune herbs were not much more affected by Amphan. 76% of manmade plants and 15% of natural herbs and shrubs were damaged.
Deshpran block: About 50% of trees were damaged, and approximately 75% of manmade vegetation was destroyed by super cyclone Amphan. At Bankiput most manmade plantation (Casuarian plants) (Figure 2) were damaged, but mangrove plants and mangrove associates (Table 3), which protects coastline erosion, were less damaged.
Figure 2. Damaged Casuarina plants
At Contai-I, Ramnagar-II, and Ramnagar-I, 10-20% of natural vegetation and 30-40% manmade vegetation was damaged by Amphan. Eucalyptus vegetation at Sankarpur (Ramnagar-I block) was damaged more (Figure 3). It was demonstrated that manmade emerged vegetation (Table 2), which the forest department or local people planted, is unsuitable for the coastal belt. However, they are economically more benefited, but ecologically they have less impact. Amphan also showed that manmade vegetation accelerated the digester more times because the broken trees damaged human life, shelter, livestock, electricity, and more. Rather than manmade vegetation, original coastal vegetation has less economic value but has an environmental impact. They can protect super cyclones, even severe super cyclones like Amphan.