Members of the forum are clearing a stretch of the river of water hyacinth.

The city’s waterbodies spread across its geography like veins. But urbanisation has washed up much garbage along the banks of these water bodies, causing many of them to end up stagnant.

This is what a group of residents along the stretch of Kaniyampuzha between Arakkakadavu and Chungam want to correct. Last December, they formed a Riverside Residents’ Forum to bring together residents on either side of the river in the three kilometre stretch.

“In the first phase, we cleared up the area from Arakkakadavu and Kuzhuveli. Now, we are extending this up to Chungam and in the long run up to Chambakkara,” said M.A. Prabhakar, president of the newly formed forum.

One of the priorities of the forum is closing the country toilets opening to the river.

Toilets to be closed

“There are about 50 families that are financially weak to afford a proper toilet with septic tank facility. We are aiming to get the help of the State government and the corporation for them and close all those toilets opening directly into the river,” he said. The councillors in corporation divisions 46 and 47, where the stretch falls, have been engaged in preliminary discussions.

The forum has already started clearing the water hyacinth from clogging the river and also clearing the wild foliage along the banks. Filters using bamboo rods will be used to keep the hyacinth from entering the stream. This will allow boats to move freely.

“Our aim is to enhance the quality of the water, if not to drinking standards, at least to a level where residents could use it. Those residing on either banks of the river used to use water from the river for cleaning. They no longer do it due to extensive pollution,” said Mr. Prabhakar.

The forum also plans to constantly monitor the quality of water and conduct regular patrols to prevent people from dumping garbage into the river. It will also take up beautification of the river stretch.

As part of this attempt, the forum is urging residents along the banks to plant flowering trees like kanikonna (Cassia fistula) and Poomaruthu (Queen’s Flower or Pride of India). The saplings, bought by the forum from the Kothamangalam office of the Department of Social Forestry, will be supplied among members.

“We have requested the apartments along the river bank to have walkways near the water front.”

The forum’s goal is to ensure that the river flows quietly and is filled with life. Not a bad dream to begin with.

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