Guwahati, May 21: A type of grass found in Tamil Nadu could help Assam arrest erosion of embankments.
Vetiver (vetiveriazizanioides), a variety of grass commonly used by farmers in Tamil Nadu to stop soil erosion in their paddy fields, has now emerged as a sliver of hope for this flood-prone state.
An official said the water resource department has tied up with an NGO, Eastern Vetiver Network India (EVNI), to help the state arrest erosion.
The executive director of EVNI, Shantanoo Bhattacharyya, told this correspondent that their organisation had planted vetiver plants at five places in the state on an experimental basis.
“We have started plantation in these five locations as a pilot project. Now we are waiting for the next flood season to see the results. Some South Asian countries have found the grass fruitful in stopping erosion,” he added.
In Assam, the NGO has planted the grass at two locations each on the embankments of Kolong and Kopili rivers and on the northern slope of Navagraha temple in Guwahati. The total length of the embankments in Assam is 4,463km and 70 per cent of them are in a very bad shape.
“The Assam government has been very proactive and wants us to help stop the erosion in Dibrugarh, Nalbari and other erosion-hit districts,” Bhattacharyya said and added that they would start work in the districts after the coming flood season.
It is now to be seen whether nature’s gift can counter its curse in the state.
Bhattacharyya said vetiver plantation was sufficient to stop the erosion of the banks of the Brahmaputra’s tributaries.
However, to stop the erosion of the Brahmaputra’s embankments, the NGO is working with IIT Roorkie. “While the experts of IIT Roorkie will take care of the toe erosion of the Brahmaputra’s embankments, we will plant vetiver to stop the horizontal erosion,” he said. Toe erosion in caused in the base of the embankments where the undercurrents are very strong.
The vetiver can survive extreme hot and cold temperatures and the state’s soil condition is suitable for it.
“Vetiver is also cost effective. Planting the grass in a one square kilometre area costs only Rs 100. The vetiver plantation also works as a bio-filter against debris and sand, which cover the paddy fields during floods and decrease the productivity of the ground,” Bhattacharyya said.
The roots of the grass spread in the ground like a thick net and can go underground upto 3 meters. They also increase the fertility of a field.
The grass can also be used to make handicrafts, charcoal and other products and as fodder for animals.