I Just Learned About Lakhs Vetiver – Guest Blog – Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnaykkad – (From Facebook) Jan 21, 2022

At long last, the Kerala Biodiversity board plants two lakhs Vetiver, which the Church of South India (CSI) Synod Department of Ecological Concerns promotes, on the banks of River Pampa.

District Panchayat President inaugurated Vetiver planting on the Pampa river banks on the 21st of January 2022 under the auspices of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board and Pampa River rejuvenation project.

Over two lakhs of Vetiver saplings will be planted on the banks of the river Pampa within the next ten days in all the 14 panchayats through which the Pampa river flows. As a member of the Pampa River Rejuvenation Project Committee and the District Biodiversity Monitoring Committee, I was delighted to participate in this event.

There is a story behind it that goes back ten years.

I had attended an international conference on Vetiver in 2008, which gave me great insight. Vetiver can raise the groundwater level. Vetiver has been proven globally to be an effective water purifier and anti-erosion plant. The native place of Vetiver is in Tamil Nadu, South India. However, Vetiver is widely used for environmental protection and industrial purposes in many countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, and China. The root can be used in Ayurvedic medicine. The ointment obtained from the root can be used for fragrance. The roots penetrate to the bottom and bind the soil to about three meters. It can prevent landslides. The overflowing water will be stopped, and the soil will be deposited there. The sharp leaves and fragrant roots repel snakes, germs and pests. The leaves and roots are immune. Young grass can be used as fodder.

Once rooted, it survives droughts and floods. Planting vetiver in highly polluted areas can help reduce pollution. Vetiver has been shown to reduce the levels of coliform bacteria. Roots and leaves are used to make handicrafts. Vetiver is a plant that can withstand pollution and disasters and can be cultivated profitably. That is why the plant is called Rolls Royce.

One of the biggest problems facing the world today is global warming. Vetiver can absorb methane, a gas that causes this. Vetiver can be used as a fence. It will stand as a strong fence for 60 years.

My doctoral research was on the pollution of the Pampa River. Dr. Soumya and Dr. Girija, who were research students under me, researched Vetiver and published it in international journals. Planting Vetiver on the banks of the Pampa will help reduce the level of high coliform bacteria in Pampa and raise the water level. Studies in over a dozen countries have shown that Vetiver can be planted on riverbanks to protect rivers. Landslides can be prevented by cultivating Vetiver on the banks and slopes of the Pampa River. It will also help to prevent sewage from flowing into rivers. There are numerous varieties of Vetiver. Only V6 type Vetiver has all these advantages.

I mentioned these things in my discussions with the late Bishop Chrysostom Metropolitan. It stuck in his mind. After a channel interview with ministers PJ Joseph, KM Mani and NK Premachandran with Bishop Chrysostom, on which I was the presenter, Bishop Chrysostom told them the story of Vetiver. He presented this without mentioning my name. Moreover, Chrysostom Metropolitan made an offer. If the Government would take the initiative to plant Vetiver from Cherukolpuzha to Maramon, he would donate one lakh rupees. Everyone said they would study it, but the project did not materialise as there was no follow up.

The CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns has undertaken the planting of Vetiver as a project and promotes it wherever possible. We distributed Vetiver in many places. Once, while travelling by train to Chennai, I explained my research to Dr. Vinoy David, a nephrologist at Vellore Medical College. When I told him these stories, he immediately asked me where he could get the roots of Vetiver V6. I gave the phone number of Madhu from Thrissur. He immediately placed an order for Vetiver. He planted V6 variety of Vetiver on two acres of his land in Chengara, Pathanamthitta district. Photos are attached.

The Biodiversity Board proposed planting 40 varieties of saplings along the banks of the Pampa River at the Pampa Biodiversity Rejuvenation Project Committee held at the District Panchayat Office. Former MLA Raju Abraham has taken a strong stand in favour of Vetiver. When I explained its merits, panchayat president Omalloor Sankaran also supported it. Two lakhs of Vetiver will be planted on the banks of river Pampa this month.

While I was a member of the Pampa River Basin Authority of the Kerala Government in 2010, I presented the need to plant Vetiver on River Pampa’s banks. I did not get the support of members of the Authority. I am happy that a big dream project has now come true.

Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnaykkad – Honorary Director, CSI Synod Department of Ecological Concerns – www.drmathewkoshy.com  drmathewkoshy51@gmail.com

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