Kosi river also termed the sorrow of Bihar is a perennial river that has its source in the high mountains of Nepal. Kosi not only carries water from the young Himalayas but also from the plains of northern Bihar.
As we are aware that the Himalayas are young mountains, hence erosion is a huge phenomenon that results in heavy sediment in the water of Kosi. During floods, Kosi gets on a Taandav mode and submerges huge tracts of land within a click of time.
However, she is not at fault, all she is doing is following the dharma of being a river of carrying water and creating new lands. After all, this is how fertile lands have formed through the ages.
The much anticipated Kosi embankments designed to control the yearly Kosi flood have failed its purpose of taming the Kosi and rather aggravated the pains of the plains.
This post talks about the Bamboo plant and how it can help the population living under the shadow of Kosi floods.
What is Bamboo (बांस)
Bamboo falls in plant species and has been an integral part of Bharatiya culture since time immemorial. It is a ‘woody grass’ found throughout the world with more than 1400 species.
Bamboo is also called ‘the wonder grass’ due to its rapid growth and natural presence in diverse climates. Some species can even grow more than a foot in 24 hours. That’s quite fast, right?
Stems of Bamboo can range from one mm to 30 cm (11.8 inches) and that is the reason they are sometimes called ‘bamboo trees’. Once it is harvested, new shoots appear from the roots every year. In 4 to 5 years, these shoots grow to a harvestable size.
Bamboo’s complex root systems act as an efficient water filter, removing harmful poisons and heavy metals before they get into the food chain.
Additionally, its ability to grow faster than many hardwoods makes bamboo ideal for absorbing greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide), compacting desertification, and global warming.
Bamboo can catch sediments and prevent erosion
Torrential rains of high-intensity are an increasing phenomenon nowadays. Degraded soil vulnerable to erosion reduce soil fertility in farmlands and decreases yields. On top of that, floods wash away massive amounts of sediment into the rivers.
Bamboo trees reduce sediments flowing into rivers, repair the riparian areas alongside rivers and stabilise land that is prone to landslides.
Promoting bamboo trees in flood and landslide prone areas helps stabilise the soils. Bamboo canopy starts providing cover after 4 years, other trees take 15 to 30 years.
Bamboo-rooting systems help retain water in the ground, binds the soils and helps filter out sediments, thereby reducing the amount of sediment that flows into the river downstream.
Bamboo covers the soil through its canopy reducing evaporation, hence rehabilitating highly degraded areas faster.
Depending on the species it forms a canopy (shelter) within the first four years compared to other trees that can take about 15 to 30 years.
Bamboo can be a means to improve the economic condition of the basin
This plant is crucial in building climate resilient communities while protecting the environment, biodiversity and the ecosystem.
Bamboo can be planted along the river banks and also as a buffer between the river and farmlands. It can improve the economic livelihoods of local masses through selling bamboo products such as firewood, charcoal, animal feeds, building and fencing materials.
National Bamboo Mission (https://www.nbm.nic.in) is a Government of India initiative to boost Bamboo usage. They can certainly play a major role in providing adequate infrastructure support for it.
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