Millennium Post

In a first: Girl takes interest in CM's Sabujayan project, pursues it as PhD programme

Plantation of Vetiver grass to check soil erosion renamed as Sabujayan project by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has become a topic for PhD thesis.

Kasturi Ghosh, a gold medalist from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, is the first student from the state to do a PhD on Chief Minister's project.

Banerjee had inaugurated the project at a function in Nadia in 2015. Vetiver grass is being planted along the riverside for protection of the river embankment.

The Nadia district administration brought Sabujayan Project under the Mahatma Gandhi national Rural Employment Guarantee Act ( MGNREGA) scheme. The Vetiver grass technology is a newly emerging panacea to a host of environmental problems.

This grass is scientifically known as Chrysopogon Zizanioides L Nash, which is a densely tufted perennial grass found in India. The grass has deep roots and can prevent soil erosion during heavy floods. Additionally, it shows high level of tolerance to toxic levels of salinity, acidity, alkalinity, and a whole range of heavy metals and agrochemicals.

Nadia is a flood-prone district. Vast areas of the district get flooded every monsoon resulting in massive soil erosion.

To combat the formidable problem of soil erosion, the state government came up with a solution of plating Vetiver grass along the banks of rivers Bhagirathi, Jalangi, Churni, Mathabhanga, Padma and Ichamati covering a distance of around 743 km. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee not only renamed the project but encouraged the officials to expedite plantation of the Vetiver grass.

The grass was brought from Tamil Nadu. But to reduce cost, more than 75 nurseries have been set up where the grass is cultivated. Till date, Vetiver has been planted along the river banks covering an area of around 200 km. Vetiver experts from the country and abroad had visited the nurseries and expressed satisfaction.

Recently, to encourage scientific research, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Mohanpur, Nadia and the state government have taken up a joint initiative to promote and standardise the different agro techniques of Vetiver cultivation along the river banks in Nadia.

The main objective of Ghosh's research is river bank stabilisation of river Bhagirathi at Nakashipara involving soil and water conservation measures and agro techniques like adjusting row spacings to reduce riverbank erosion. Secondly, to standardise a package of practices for Vetiver in the state scenario and to study its effect on Vetiver growth, soil properties after cultivation etc.

Dharanidhar Patra, Vice-Chancellor BCKV also an eminent Vetiver scientistsaid the research will "help scientific basis of plantation for river embankment protection and other uses in Nadia."

It may be mentioned, in East Midnapore, steps have been taken to plant Vetiver to check soil erosion. Dibyendu Sarkar, Commissioner MGNREGA said: "We are taking up the scheme of Vetiver throughout the district under MGNREGA for its cost effective green bio-engineering properties."
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