KOTTAYAM: In early 2015, when the Meenachil River Protection Council came out with what they called the 'Meenachil River Restoration Campaign', not many thought it was the beginning of a major water conservation and river revival project in the district.
However, three years on, the people's initiative has turned into one of the major river rejuvenation programmes in the state reviving and re-linking three rivers -- Meenachil, Meenanthara and Kodoor.
Apart from the river revival project, the initiative has also rejuvenated paddy cultivation in hundreds of acres and given a fresh impetus to the tourism potential in the rural areas of the district.
While the river restoration campaign has grown into a major Meenachil–Meenanthara–Kodoor river re-linking programme, the public initiative remains the highlight of the campaign.
At the same time, various NGOs and government departments -- including the Local Self Government department (LSGD), Irrigation Department, Tourism Department and Agriculture Department -- have provided backing to the project.
According to Anil Kumar, convener of the river re-linking programme, around 200 kms of small rivulets and streams which supply water to the rivers have been revived so far to strengthen the rivers.
“What we achieved is only a small portion. We have to rejuvenate around 3,000 kms of streams in order to meet our objective. While the total length of the three rivers is around 130 kms, they have a strong tributary network which make them strong even during the summer season,” he said.
Apart from ensuring revival of these rivers and its tributaries, the initiative has also led to the revival of paddy cultivation in around 2,000 acres so far and is expected to restore cultivation in over 10,000 acres more. At the same time, it has also revived the possibilities of water tourism prospect in the region and developed various tourism spots like Kanjiram–Malarikkal, Padiayarakkadav, Vakathanam and Vettikkad.
Carrying forward their efforts, Meenachil River Protection Council are planning a people’s campaign against pollution of water bodies in the district.
As part of the new campaign, people across the district will march towards the nearest point of these rivers on May 12 to identify pollution at the source and clean them. Subsequently, action plans will be finalised locally. While LSGD will provide the fund for surveying, the sanitation drive will be carried out by the public, employing canoes and boats on their own.
The final report of the survey will be submitted to the respective local bodies by May 18. After vetting the report, the panchayats concerned will publish the reports by May 20 and hand them over for further action by the Health Department.