Protection of river banks from erosion is a problem in flood-prone areas and involves a huge expenditure, but an indigenous variety of grass may well offer a cost-effective solution.

The grass vetiver, whose scientific name is Chrysopogon Zizanioides, has been planted on the embankment of the Mundeswari River in Hooghly district experimentally under MGNREGA programme.

“The grass will be planted on around 900 metres of the Mundeswari embankment at Udna in the Khanakul-1 block in Hooghly district in the first phase under the MGNREGA programme,” Hooghly District Magistrate Sripriya Rangarajan said.

Ms. Rangarajan pointed out that several aspects of vetiver make it an excellent anti-erosion plant in warm climates and that unlike most grasses, it does not form a horizontal mat of roots.

Rather, the roots grow exclusively 2-4 meters downward, which is deeper than even some tree roots. This makes vetiver an excellent stabilising hedge for protecting soil from erosion. The roots bind to the soil and block runoff of surface water.

An interesting feature of the grass is that the more it is eaten by cows after it grows to a substantial length the more it grows, which is because of the existence of ‘lipase’, a substance helps it to grow faster.