Government wakes up to Azolla mess
LAWDA Launches Cleaning Drive In Affected Areas Of Dal Lake
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Aug 12: In a bid to check massive growth of the noxious water fern Azolla in Dal and Nigeen lakes, authorities have launched a massive cleaning drive in these water bodies.
Greater Kashmir last week reported that Azolla has engulfed Dal lake’s many parts particularly the Hazratbal basin and adjoining Nigeen lake. The experts had warned that if Azolla is left unattended, it can cause irreversible damage to flora and fauna of these water bodies.
On the recommendation of its scientists, the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) entrusted with Dal conservation has launched a drive to check proliferation of Azolla.
The vice-chairperson of LAWDA, Irfan Yasin said state-of-the-art machines, harvesters and Truxors have been pressed into service to clean Azolla from Dal and Nigeen lakes.
“Azolla is present only on surface of these water bodies. We cannot use any chemical to prevent proliferation of Azolla as waters of Dal and Nigeen are used for drinking purposes. The only option left with us is to stop influx of the water fern into the Dal and in this regard we have devised a comprehensive plan and started its execution,” Yasin told Greater Kashmir.
Azolla enters into the Dal mainly through its inflow channels. Dal receives its waters from Marsar a glacial oligotrophic alpine lake and Mahadev peak through four main channels Telbal, Meerak Shah, Pishpav and Botkul.
The problem gets compounded as high concentration of Azolla spores besides nutrients and fertilizers from agriculture lands in catchments flow unchecked into these channels and subsequently settle in Dal leading to proliferation of the obnoxious fern and weeds.
Azolla gradually makes its way into the Nigeen lake when waters from its main source, Dal reaches there through various inter-connected channels.
Yasin said in England experts use Weevil a highly effective natural enemy of Azolla
Weevil, feeds and reproduces on Azolla. “It has proven to be an effective biological control agent in various lakes of England. But our scientists did not approve its use saying it could affect flora and fauna of the lake,” he said.
Elaborating, Yasin said mesh wires have been installed in all the inflow channels of Dal to trap Azolla.
“We will clean Azolla retention areas on daily basis. Besides we have activated man-made wetlands near these inflow channels to trap Azolla spores. We have also laid a network of suction pipes to clean Azolla from those areas of Dal where machines cannot reach,” he said.
He said the LAWDA scientists are closely monitoring the cleaning drive. “We will soon conduct flushing of the lake to minimize concentration of nutrients which help in proliferation of Azolla. If all goes according to our scientific plan Dal and Nigeen will be free from Azolla by the end of this month,” he added.
The presence of Azolla is Dal and Nigeen lakes was recently confirmed by a noted environmentalist, Dr Abdul Majeed Kak, who is working on major research project to study the Valley’s lakes and wetlands.
“This water fern has a high power of vegetative regeneration, besides production of spores which hibernate in our lake bottom till the favorable seasons. So its eradication is hectic and only expert scientific team can deal with this grave problem,” he said.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 12 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 12 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 13 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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