Brahmani River: Environmentalists have recently 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.
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 Talcher-Angul coal mines, steel, and power plants as well as the Kalinganagar steel and power hub are drawing enormous quantities of fresh water from the Brahmani river.
- The reduction in water flow would lead to drastic changes in the water regime of the Bhitarkanika mangroves.
- The Sunderbans mangrove forest was drastically affected after the Farraka barrage was commissioned.
- The lack of normal flow of freshwater would increase saline ingression upstream, which in turn would affect the local flora and fauna as well as the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen dependent upon the Brahmani and the Kharasrota.
- In addition, there could be a quantum increase in the man–crocodile conflict since the estuarine crocodiles would leave the core sanctuary area and migrate upstream once salinity increases.
- The Brahmani is a major seasonal river in the state Odisha of eastern India.
- It is formed by the confluence of the Sankh and south Koel.
- Together with the river Baitarani, it forms a large delta before emptying into the Bay of Bengal at Dhamra.
- Bhitarkanika is a notified Ramsar wetland.
- It is spread over 195 sq. km and is home to 62 mangrove species.
- Besides, 1,600 saltwater crocodiles crawl on the mudflats of the Bhitarkanika mangrove forest.
- A mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water.
- Proportionate freshwater flow from the Brahmani river basin and the Kharasrota River keeps the salinity level of the water along the shore down.
- The brackish water becomes ideal for the mangroves to grow and stay healthy.