Udhagamandalam: To recreate disappeared wetlands in the Nilgiris, volunteers have initiated a drive to plant native grass species around Ooty. Volunteers planted ‘Chrysopogon nodulibarbis’, a versatile native grass species that grows upto 3.5ft high, on an area of 2,000sqft at the premises of the Nilgiri Library, a heritage building, on Commissioner’s Road.
The grass species grows like a hemisphere and hence is ornamental, environmentalists said. The roots of grass go very deep and can help improve the groundwater level of the area and arrest soil erosion.
“Wetland and shola forest areas around Ooty have all but disappeared. This initiative is to stop the replacement of native grass species by invasive ones,” said Sunitha Balasubramaniam, a volunteer.
The initiative is encouraged under ‘Code Blue’, a wetland restoration project of Rotary Club, Nilgiris west. “The club has identified suitable areas to start replacement of invasive grass varieties with native ones in the town,” said Dr V Balasubramaniam, president of the club. “The term ‘Code Blue’ is used in medical parlance to indicate a patient requiring immediate attention. Our Blue Mountains are now facing such an emergency.”
Vasanth Bosco, who supplied the native grass saplings, told TOI, “It is an initiative to revive the native grasslands in the hill district. Grasslands will help harvest rainwater.” Bosco has been cultivating 4 to 5 varieties of native grass species and supplying to interested people in the district.
“We planned to complete the initiative in stages. In next stages, we would plant native grass species around the collectorate building, St. Stephen’s Church and the newly formed animal pound at Kandal,” said Sunitha.
Besides Rotary Club members, NSS members of JSS College of Pharmacy in Ooty and local residents participated in the planting activities.