Congress grass has gripped the entire city with its invasion in parks, government buildings and roads. It has been home to mosquitoes, snakes and is affecting livestock and human health, yet the authorities have turned a blind eye to it.
According to sources, there were two deaths in June due to snake bite; the snakes have been nesting under the congress grass. Despite several warnings issued by the health department regarding dermatitis and respiratory malfunctions in people after coming in contact with the plant, the Public Works Department (PWD) has taken no measure to curtail its growth.
A recent survey conducted by HT around the city revealed that even in posh areas and government housing colonies the plant had spread its roots.
PWD sub-divisional officer Surjit Singh said, "The department already has a shortage of manpower, most of the Class-4 employees have retired and the posts are lying vacant. For us, maintaining the government buildings has become a herculean task. For managing the entire city, a high-level initiative should be taken by the police and the municipal corporation authorities."
Singh said the department employees had been made to work on holidays in order to maintain the grass.
District health officer Harsh Malhotra said congress grass could trigger allergies and is a common cause of pollen. During monsoon, it becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects. However, it is the duty of the PWD authorities to make sure that the grass is cut, he added.
Gurnam Kaur, a resident of Passi Road, said, "The grass has grown wild and in the evenings people fear going for walks and sending their children to play as the grass has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The authorities must take quick action in this regard."