Kerala

Infusing new life into a freshwater lake

While the world is busy making Dalgona coffee to beat lockdown blues, a group of youngsters from Kunnathur are on a different mission.

For the last two weeks they have been diligently weeding Sasthamcotta Lake, removing huge chunks of an aquatic fern locally called ‘mullan payal’ from the waterbody. “Since many of us were left with a lot of time to spare, we wanted to invest it in something meaningful. Several residents and volunteers have been part of this process and we were very active before the lockdown. Now we take turns and only four or five people venture into the lake at a time. We keep a safe distance from each other and wear masks while in water,” says Ullas Kovoor, who coordinates the cleaning drive.

Currently, weeds abound in areas near the Filter House junction and parts of Kerala’s largest freshwater lake are choking under the spread. With summer reaching its peak, most weed patches are wilting and the entire surrounding is filled with the stink of decaying biomass.

“Currently, large stretches of the lake are covered in this, except for a handful of bathing ghats. It is a major concern for those residing in the area and the only option is to get rid of the weed.” And it turned out to be no easy task, as the volunteers had to sweat for long hours, gathering and hauling the weeds to the shore.

“At the outset it felt like an easy job, but as we started ripping the weed, we realised it required a lot of effort. First, we collect a sizeable bulk and then pull it to the shore using ropes. Then, we spread it there for a couple of days to dry and then burn it,” he adds.

According to experts, the presence of the fern will easily sabotage the the aquatic ecosystem just like other invasive species. It is also a threat to the water quality, leading to long-term complications. “Despite being a Ramsar site, no proper system is in place to conserve the waterbody. Due to the inflow of nutrients, the flora and fauna of the ecosystem are changing. Since eradication is practically impossible, we should focus on the conservation of the ecosystem,” says V.K. Madhusoodan, environmentalist and member of the environment committee of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 9:53:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/infusing-new-life-into-a-freshwater-lake/article31368751.ece

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