KOZHIKODE: While Kerala’s scenic charm owes much to its rivers meandering through villages, towns and cities, plenty remains to be done to conserve these lifelines.Adding to the efforts in that direction over the past few years is a group of expatriates in Qatar. The 5,000 members of Chaliyar Doha are putting their heads together to keep the Chaliyar, the banks of which hold a lot of memories for those living in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts, flowing serenely.
“Chaliyar Doha took birth on January 11, 2015 on the death anniversary of Chaliyar protectionist K A Rahman Sahib,” says Mashood V C, chief advisor and founding president of the organisation.He terms it an environmentally motivated socio-cultural umbrella organisation for Indian expatriates from 24 panchayats situated along the banks of the Chaliyar.“The Chaliyar is a culture and unites people of all faiths and creeds. Our lives are closely woven with the river, like the blood that flows through our veins,” Mashood says.
He was inspired to form the organisation during a visit to Dubai where he heard his friends talk nostalgically about river Iruvazhinji.“When we saw the state of our rivers, with sand mafia, real estate mafia and others wreaking havoc, we thought we should do something,” he says.Chaliyar Doha then held a forum attended by the presidents of panchayats on the banks of the river, and also the representatives of Malappuram and Kozhikode Collectors, MLAs and MPs.
“We discussed the need to protect the river by reducing pollution and maintaining cleanliness, and also the different approaches to realise that aim,” recalls Mashood.Following up on the initial activities of cleaning and revival, they have been conducting awareness campaigns and annual tree planting and kayaking programmes to generate interest among people.
“We planted 10,001 trees on the banks of the river with the help of NSS, NCC, youth and cultural organisations and the panchayat authorities in 2016. But, sadly, when I came back a year later, many areas near the banks, where the trees had been planted, were levelled for construction,” he says.