Thursday, December 8

B Garden uses 131-yr-old tech to prevent flooding, save trees

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The Company Garden of the British, known as Indian Botanic Garden today, used to get severely flooded after it was founded in 1787, through the 1800s, because it was adjacent to the river Hooghly. Not only heavy rain but even high tides led to the flooding. This caused loss of valuable mahogany trees that the British had planted here for wood required to build ships. Finally, in 1890 two sluice gates were set up on the eastern frontage of the Garden to escape the wrath of the Hooghly.
This was not enough. A network of 24 water bodies was created, so that water from the Hooghly could be flown in through the sluice gates into them. The excess, after the lakes were filled, could be flown out as the sluice gates were shut when the water level of the lakes reached the optimum point.
Wednesday’s flooding of Howrah happened because of the high tides at Hooghly but it is this 131-year-old technology that saved the Garden on a day when the authorities were extremely tense about the Yaas outcome. The high water of the Hooghly was flown into the 24 lakes as the sluice gates were opened, leaving the Garden safe. Initially the British would close and open the gates manually and thereafter a steam engine was deployed. Recently, keeping the technology unchanged, the gates have been semi-automated for opening and closing.

“The gates and the network channels were so scientifically made that they operate smoothly even today and saves us during such crisis,” said Garden head, Kanad Das.

A three-hour long inspection of the Garden was done by botanists on Thursday morning to check if the strong wind circulation during Wednesday’s cyclone had left any impact on the Garden. “We were very worried about the 300-year-old Great Banyan Tree that was severely damaged during Amphan. A wide gap measuring 20 metres in diametre was caused and the tree is still being healed. However, the mud embankments that we have given it this time has helped to firm up the tree,” Das said. Not a single tree has been affected, he asserted.
Big mud mounds have been created around ancient and weak trunks to prevent swaying. Hundreds of bamboo support networks have also been created for the weak branches and bamboo stilt feet have been given to train the young prop roots to the ground. “We also fear a fungal attack from the portions, wounded by Amphan and have applied Blytox, an anti-fungal, already. However rain washes it off and we are keeping a close watch on any outbreak,” Das added.

Source: Times of India

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