No end to water hyacinth menace

March 06, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:35 am IST - KOCHI

: While physical removal of fast-spreading seaweeds, especially water hyacinth, from lakes and inland waters was undertaken in the Kuttanad region by the State Fisheries Resources Management Society (FIRMA) for three years as part of the Kuttanad Package, it was called off in June, 2014.

“The menace continued unabated, but no body really understood the gravity of the situation. Biomass multiplication and regeneration of water hyacinth is rapid and it takes about 10 to 15 years of continuous removal to effectively reduce the menace. While we were doing it, the government apparently thought of exploring other options, including handing it over to the irrigation department. The operations, therefore, were called off on June 20, 2014,” says P. Sahadevan, FIRMA executive director.

However, local bodies across the State continued to do it on a much smaller scale.

He said eradication of water hyacinth could be done using chemical, biological and mechanical processes. “But the first two are unwieldy and ecologically unfriendly. Mechanised removal is an expensive, time-consuming process. Earlier, saline water ingress during rainy season would kill the weed, but constructions across streams and lakes prevented this from happening. As it’s an invasive species in our region, the ecosystem doesn’t offer any natural defence. Dumping of waste and draining of sewage into the canals provide the weeds, with strong fibre, adequate nutrients to thrive. It’s doubtless an ecological disaster. But since its impact on marine resources is indirect, people seldom realise the gravity of the issue,” he said.

‘It takes up to 15 years to effectively remove water hyacinth regeneration’

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