Harmless looking water hyacinths, which cover almost all water bodies and Dhobijoar Nullah, are largely to blame for the unprecedented waterlogging in Sambalpur Town recently.
As incessant rain lashed Western Odisha for days together, the hyacinths prevented the free flow of water in drains and nullahs leading to inundation of the entire town. The wild vegetation cover in Dhobijoar Nullah blocked the free passage of rain water leading to waterlogging. The hyacinths got stuck in the discharge gates and the district administration had to put in a lot of efforts to clean up the mess to ensure free flow of water down the Nullah.
Moreover, hyacinths provide the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes while its large leaves cause water stagnation. Many feel that if the hyacinths are removed from the water bodies, half of the waterlogging woes of the town would be solved.
Under the circumstances, both the district administration and civic body need to do some serious thinking on getting rid of the menace soon.
The growth of water hyacinths can be controlled both physically and biologically. Physically, it can be controlled by use of machines such as bucket cranes, draglines and aquatic weed harvester. The growth can also be biologically contained by releasing a species of weevil (beetle), which feed on hyacinths.
As vegetative reproduction of the hyacinths takes place at a rapid rate, Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC) had to clear the unwanted vegetation in power channel pond near VSS University of Technology at Burla upto Chiplima Power House II. Sources said the cleaning work was outsourced to Kalinga Engineers, which in collaboration with IDCO, removed hyacinths from the pond. Special boats with hydraulic system to lift and dispose the hyacinths were procured and the entire pond was removed of the wild vegetation.
While the district administration is scratching its head to find ways to prevent recurrence of a deluge of such a magnitude, the presence of hyacinths and their role in waterlogging has escaped its notice. It is high time the administration and civic authorities weed out the unwanted vegetation from water bodies in the town and in the process get rid of waterlogging once and for all.