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River Bank and Slope Stabilization in Assam - A Success Story

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three years ago Shantanoo Bhattacharyya, the coordinator for the Eastern India Vetiver Network, started demonstrating the application of the Vetiver System for river bank and steep slope stabilization.  He has done a pretty good job to the extent that: 

all the vetiver projects were funded by the Govt. The Water Resources Department, Public Works Department, Rural Development  Department are executing the works. Other than these departments, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Power Grid Corporation LTD., Border Roads Organization under Ministry of Defence, Govt. of Sikkim has funded different projects. We may be an exception, but Government and various organizations under it are very proactive. I think we just need to consolidate the technique under the local environment. For example, the river erosion is very unique here. The bank can be eroded by about 100m or more in a season. Erosion takes place both during the rainy season and during the low river flow periods. The underwater erosion is very severe. So vetiver does alone does not work in all places. A couple of our works failed totally in the second year - even after well established vetiver..... Shantanoo Bhattacharyya.

TVNI provided Shantanoo with some advice, and last year Oliver Hawes, a geological engineer from Britain spent a month in Assam working with Shantanoo and providing useful ideas.  His report is at the TVNI website.  Shantanoo recently shared a presentation of before and after images of work done on the Brahmaputra and other large rivers in Assam.  It is an impressive start.  These large rivers create many problems, and like the work carried out by Tuon Van on the Mekong in Cambodia, large portions of the river bank crack and fall into the river, much of this is caused by below water level bank erosion.  Shantanoo has come up with some interesting techniques to combat these problems.

The bottom line is once again vetiver has been shown to deal with some very difficult situations, and if applied in conjunction with some more standard engineering techniques can achieve good results at low cost.  Perhaps some of our friends from the US Corps of Engineers might learn something from the ongoing Assam experience.

Once again these techniques could and should be used in other tropical countries that are subjected to major storms and flooding.  Hopefully the application will be taken up by rehabilitation projects in Haiti.

Over the past year this network and blog have drawn our readers attention to the use of VS for river bank stabilization, rehabilitation of major urban gullies, prevention and reduction of contamination of rivers and water sources.  Hello !  there is a connection here ... all are problems of poor countries, all are relatively low cost solutions, most are not difficult to apply, most are successful and last a long time, and all are linked to climate change and problems due to increasing populations. All should involve, in total or in part, the Vetiver System


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