‘Seemai Karuvelam’ trees that are found in abundance in the city have been banned by the Madurai Corporation following a decision made in the Corporation Council meeting on Friday.

In a resolution, the Corporation said private land owners must take steps to remove Seemai Karuvelam plants that were growing on their lands since they led to the depletion of groundwater.

“The plant shouldn’t be simply cut or cleared, but should be carefully uprooted. Partially cut Karuvelam plants can grow very fast and four times thicker than what they were,” said N. Chidambaram, Project Co-ordinator of Madurai Green.

Stressing the need to uproot the plants only when they were not bearing flowers or fruit, Mr.Chidambaram said, “While uprooting, the fruits or flowers can easily spread and give rise to more plants. They should be buried in a pit after they are uprooted.”

Environmentalists believe that the plant was introduced in the 1960’s to be used as firewood to help the people reeling under a drought situation. The plants are found in abundance in the city near water tanks and on the Vaigai riverbed.

Emphasising the adverse effects the plant had on underground water table, Prof.K. Muthuchelian, School of Energy Sciences, Madurai Kamaraj University and Former Vice-Chancellor, Periyar University, said it had a very deep root system and a high capacity to tap groundwater.

“The Karuvelam tree absorbs as much as four litres of water to produce one kg of biomass. The species is also known to germinate very fast and it spreads easily as a weed,” Dr.Muthuchelian said.

The resolution specified that failure to clear the plants would result in the civic body clearing them and charging private land owners for the same along with a fine, starting from Rs.500, depending on the size of the land.

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