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Tall grass to check landslide

Guwahati, June 5: A cost-effective method of vetiver plantation will be used at 366 landslide-prone sites in and around Guwahati to prevent landslips.

The sites were identified by a study carried out by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority.

A vetiver is a tall perennial grass with long, vertical and dense roots. It is found throughout the plains and lower hills of India.

“Vetivers can prevent landslides as the roots of the grass run deep and can check the land mass from crumbling. I have successfully applied the concept in the hilly areas beside National Highway 40 near Jorabat and in the gauge conversion work of NF Railway in Dima Hasao district,” Santanu Bhattacharyya, executive engineer of the state PWD department, said during a workshop on climate change here today.

The Authority organised the workshop on World Environment Day to spread awareness about the ill-effects of pollution and how it can be mitigated.

It identified the sites through a rapid visual screening in and around the city. A report was prepared with an interpretation of all the vulnerable sites along with an overall idea of the magnitude of the landslide problem.

About 75 per cent of the 366 sites identified across 20 localities of the city demand immediate intervention.

Based on the rapid visual screening, the Sunsali area was found to have the highest number of vulnerable sites (77) followed by Noonmati (40) and Kharghuli (37).

“I have also planted vetiver grass on the slopes beside Kharghuli Road, which is a landslide prone area. Now, I am looking to apply the same method on the other vulnerable sites identified by the disaster management authority,” Bhattacharyya said.

Asked why vetivers, he said, “The grass is perennial with a low biomass above ground and grows densely below ground. It is more effective than concrete material, both in terms of strength and cost. Besides, it can be grown on poor soil. I am also considering its usage as a means to prevent river erosion here.”

He said cultivators in Assam need to nurture the grass in nurseries on a large scale.

“The grass that I have so far used in my projects has been procured and brought from south India. While transporting the grass to the state has not been a problem so far, we must nurture vetivers in nurseries here on a largescale so that it is available for use when required,” he added.


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