KOZHIKODE: `Study on public awareness about mangroves in Swapnanagari,’ an initiative of students of the Department of Social Work, St. Joseph’s College, Devagiri, has highlighted that the destruction of mangroves for the construction of buildings, and disposal of waste in mangrove forest will lead to a series of problems, including severe water scarcity in Kozhikode Corporation area.
As an immediate step, a watchman, preferably from among the locals must be appointed. Networking with NGOs, planting of mangroves as sea wall to protect the shore, promotion of `green tourism’ utilising the possibilities of mangrove forest, involvement of local communities in the programme with a view to changing their attitude are some of the suggestions put forward by the students.
The students’ initiative assumes significance in the present context when efforts are on to conserve mangroves in the city with people’s participation. The study concentrates on the awareness of residents in the Swapnanagari area of the importance of mangroves.
Most of the residents here are not aware of the importance of mangroves, wetlands and watersheds.
Interestingly, only 10 per cent of the respondents are aware of the initiatives taken by others in protecting mangroves, though the majority are aware about the past of mangrove forests in the area.
The survey highlights the need for awareness on protection of mangrove forests. A tabulated survey reveals that the majority of people living in Swapnanagari area from the marginalised group own small plots of land. As many as 20 per cent have mangroves in their land showing that major part of the mangrove forest is in private hands. More than 78.75 per cent of respondents opined that they could not obstruct the construction activities at the mangrove site due to political influence and money.
Garbage dumping by residents in the vicinity was a normal practice (27.5 per cent dumped waste here). The statistics reveal that neither the Government nor any other organisation has taken any effective measures to protect the mangroves