Professor Kak, working deep in anthropogenic activities (impact of humans/air pollution on biodiversity and ecology) in Kashmir brings yet another environmental challenge to the fore
(Dr. Abdul Majeed Kak, 62, was born and in Nowhatta, Srinagar. He received his primary education from the Government Middle School in Nowhatta and his secondary school education from Bagi Dilawar Khan Higher Secondary School in Fateh Kadal. He completed his college education at the Islamia College of Science and Commerce in Srinagar. In 1977 he was the first candidate from the University of Kashmir to be selected by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of the Government of India for a doctoral research scholarship at the university leading to a Ph.D. in Botany in 1980. He is currently the Research Coordinator in the Department of Botany at the Islamia College of Science and Commerce in Srinagar. Dr. Kak has over 35 years of teaching experience and research experience of over 25 years. He has received numerous research awards resulting in publication of 70 research papers and has authored two books on Botany. He completed a novelty ethno-botanical museum with about 600 antique and extinct wooden artifacts of Kashmir that has been created in the Islamia College of Science and Commerce (ICSC), a project supported by a grant from the Ministry of Culture, New Delhi. Presently the Ministry of Environment and Foresta of the Government of India, New Delhi, has awarded him a major prestigious research project along with a team of four highly qualified scholars that are working on the impact of anthropogenic activities on Himalayan lakes.)
Another Deadly Invasion
Alligator Grass, a Dreadful Noxious Weed Attacks Dal Lake
Alligator grass, aquatic weed also referred as pig weed is a Perennial, floating emergent, noxious invasive weed, has recently invaded our famous fresh water bodies. Although subtropical weed supposed to be native of S. America has infiltrated our lakes just some years before has started causing serious threat, like many other noxious invasive. Azolla, a water fern that was reported in the year 2004 for the first time in all our freshwater lakes has unrecordedly deteriorated the essence, charm, water quality and upgraded eutrophication, beside completely wiped many of our medicinal and highly nutritional aquatic weeds also lot many underwater life forms, from our lakes. Since that time also hue and cry was raised to eradicate this noxious weed being a great threat to our water bodies instead concerned authorities paid deaf ear to our reporting and suggestions with the result proliferation of Azolla is out of control as it has chocked every nock and corner of all our precious lakes by forming thick carpets everywhere in every lake. Nominal surface removal for few days or rare downpour is never remedial measure to control multiplication of the weed because the plant has high power of regeneration; every broken piece regenerates into a adult plant. It has spread in all valley lakes including far flung rural Manasbal Lake and Wular lakes. Thick layers are recorded in Nageen, Dal, Hokher sar Anchar. caused a lot of deterioration to our world famous lakes and are out of control to eradicate or check.
Periodical visits made to monitor deteriorated conditions of all lakes of the valley by collecting water samples and to record the impact of various anthropogenic activities on aquatic vegetation. It was noticed that one more worsen invasive noxious weed has infiltrated in almost in all our lakes, commonly called Alligator grass and Scientifically named as Alternathera philoxeroides. This weed grows healthy in high-nutrient (eutrophic) conditions that obviously indicate that our lakes have turned highly nutritious. This species was reported for the first time in Wular Lake in the year 2008 but in dispersed form, has now spread in all fresh water lakes in thick mats, in such a short period of time, particularly in Dal Lake and in all its tributaries channels. Now the weed has started forming thick mats, large and extensive rafts floating on surface of water with emergent body in deep waters near shallow waters or lake margins it remains attached to the lake substratum.
Considered one of the worst aquatic weed in the world as it becomes serious threat to the fresh water bodies. It grows in dense mats with massive underground rhizomatous root system. It obstructs waterways, hinders navigation, increases pollution and wipes all native plants by over shading them.
Ultimately under water life both flora and fauna get completely destroyed. It has been internationally established that the weed cannot be eradicated once it has infested in any water body, despite numerous costly attempts. So in many countries attempts have been made to eradicate it soon it starts infestation in any water body. There is no evident biological control for the weed, even certain permissible chemicals have been applied but none has remained successful.
Mechanical removal without care facilitates its proliferation and spread enormously. Stolens can regenerate from burial to 30 cm deep. Alligator grass bears prominent white flowers which are bisexual but viable seeds are not produced. So reproduction is entirely vegetative by bearing vegetative buds in the submerged stems propagate enormously and is very difficult to control its proliferation physically.
The weed is worldwide in distribution. In India it is reported from Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Tripura, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, even in Delhi and Punjab. It grows even in marshy boggy place and tolerates all abnormal weather conditions.
Recently it has been established that, Alligator grass is considered to be one of the worst aquatic weeds in the world. It has the potential to become a serious threat to waterways, agriculture and the environment. “The Commonwealth of Australia States that, “Alligator weed disrupts the aquatic environments by blanketing the surface of the water impeding penetration of light and gaseous exchange (sometimes leading to anaerobic conditions) resulting adverse affects on flora and fauna. It also Promotes health problems by providing habitats for mosquitoes and other stoning insects and degrade natural aesthetics.” Control of this species has proven to be an expensive and complicated ordeal wherever it has established.
It is also stated that, Alligator grass has been very rarely successfully eradicated. Once it infestes any water body it is very difficult to eradicate, despite numerous costly attempts. For this reason, the highest priority for the management of alligator weed is an effective system of early detection and eradication before infestations become established. This noxious weed reproduces entirely by vegetative means and relies on the production of nodal buds on stems. Each node has two axillary buds. Also thicker roots and underground stems are capable of proliferation. Spreading is by fragmentation.
Alligator grass is on the Prohibited Aquatic Plant List – (5B-64.011). According to Florida Statute, “No person shall import, transport, cultivate, collect, sell, or possess any noxious aquatic plant listed on the prohibited aquatic plant list established by the department without a permit issued by the department.”
Unfortunately there is no check of such noxious weeds in our State, neither concerned officials nor lake authorities’ bothers or takes any heed of our yelling. Applying antique and out dated method of surface removal is not scientific way, instead these methods help noxious weeds to spread more rapidly. It is wished that the lake authorities will take a serious note of it and will make their research and monitoring wing functional and answerable.