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One year on, water hyacinth invades Ulhas river again

Kalyan: The water hyacinth (killer weeds) that was cleared from the surface of Ulhas river, a year ago, has returned. It has covered at least 30 kilometers of the river, which is a major source of drinking water for lakhs of residents across Thane.

The reappearance of water hyacinth has environmentalists expressing concerns over pollution in the river. “Reappearance of the weeds on the river surface means the pollution in the water body is so bad that there is a need to keep cleaning the river and clearing it of the weeds on a regular basis,” said Shashikant Dayma, of the founder of Waldhuni Biradari foundation.

“At the same time, it is also necessary to take measures and control all the activities that lead to pollution in Ulhas river,” he added.

In three days, the green weeds has spread to cover the areas such as Hendre pada in Badlapur, Apti weir, Rayate bridge, Kamba — Mohana pump house and has spread across Regency Antilia to Mohana — NRC weir.

Last year, social activist and founder of Mi Kalyankar organisation of Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation, Nitin Nikam had staged a protest to highlight the rapidly growing green weeds in the river. The then guardian minister of Thane, Eknath Shinde along with Thane collector Rajesh Narvekar, visited the river and had directed that immediate measures be taken to get rid of the weeds.

Following this, Saguna Rural Foundation took up the task of clearing the weeds and managed to have a major impact in making the water clear and clean. The weeds were removed using medicines.

Water hyacinth reproduces primarily through runners or stolons, which eventually form daughter plants, about nine to eleven attached to the mother plants. Each plant, additionally, can produce thousands of plantlets each year.

The common water hyacinth (Eichornia crassipes) are vigorous growers and can double in size in one-to-two weeks. And in terms of plant count rather than size, they are said to multiply by more than a hundredfold in 23 days. The large mass of the floating weed consumes and transpires large quantities of water and can dehydrate a water body.

“We had managed to clear the weeds in Ulhas River earlier. These weeds are killer weeds as they grow rapidly anywhere and everywhere in the water body. Clearing these weeds from inside is necessary. We have successfully cleared the weeds in several places. In the case of Ulhas River, if we are asked to do it again, we will do it again,” said Shekhar Bhadsavle, of Saguna Rural Foundation.

“These weeds are killer weeds as they not only turn the water bad but also lead to death of anyone, who get entangled in them while swimming. It specially grows when the water is steady, there is less flow, hot weather and the water is polluted,” said Bhadsavle.

An officer from MPCB, Kalyan division, said, “We have made a note of this and will be forwarding the same to the concerned department to take necessary steps to clear the water of the weeds at the earliest.”

“There is a need to have a big movement for three years to completely clear the weeds from Ulhas river because of many small waterbodies like nullahs from different places of nearby cities, is connected to this this river. So, the weeds travel from all these places and settle and cover a large part of the river at many places.

“This big movement should also comprise spreading awareness among the people to not pollute water in any way, immediately report if any weed is found in the waterbody,” said Bhadsavle.


    Sajana is a correspondent for Kalyan and has an experience of about four years covering civic and cultural issues for Thane edition of HT.
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