A jawan burns parthenium near a Hazaribagh lake on Monday. (Vishvendu Jaipuriar)
The CRPF jawans of Battalion 22 have a new weapon and mission in hand: Grass-cutter to uproot parthenium, a noxious weed, from across Hazaribagh town.
After cleaning the picturesque Hazaribagh lakes last year, the CRPF men have undertaken the task to free the town of parthenium, which is popularly known as carrot grass. Led by commandant Munna Kumar Singh, the green campaign to remove parthenium from roadsides, localities as well as tourist spots began on Thursday.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Monday morning, Singh said he saw parthenium along the roadside, on wastelands and even office campuses. “It is dangerous for human beings. The shrub is known to trigger debilitating allergies, dermatitis, eczema, asthma, respiratory tract infection, conjunctivitis and itching, among others,” said Singh.
Asked about the campaign, the commandant said around two dozen jawans were using grass-cutters to remove the plant. “We are burning the parthenium shrubs. Since the mercury meter is climbing up everyday and temperature in the town has almost touched the 40°C mark, we start work at 5am sharp. Our first target is the area around Hazaribagh lake. Once that is cleaned, we will shift our focus to different localities,” he added.
But, mere destruction of this weed is not enough. People must be made aware of the issue and for that a widespread awareness drive is required. Here steps in city traffic in-charge R.S. Mishra, who has agreed to put posters against parthenium plants at traffic posts.
Commandant Singh, too, admitted that Mishra and his department have promised them all the help.
“They will tell people how this shrub is a threat to biodiversity as well as human beings and livestock,” Singh added.
Besides, Singh has also spoken to St. Xavier’s School principal Father P.J. James who has agreed to organise an interactive session with agriculture scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Holy Cross R.K. Singh and D.K. Raghav. “We will request other schools to do the same,” said Singh.
Scientists Singh and Raghav both opined that awareness campaign was a must to curb this menace. “Residents should destroy parthenium immediately if they find it anywhere near mohallas,” said the duo.
Popularly known as carrot grass, the weed is spread over 3.5 crore hectares in India. Originally found in Mexico, North and Central America, it was accidentally introduced in India with wheat imported from America during the food shortage in the 1950s. First spotted in Pune in 1955-56, it spread through interstate transport.
Apart from removing parthenium, commandant Singh said they have identified two more water bodies around Hazaribagh Lake, which is at present a cluster of four lakes.