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Filth sullies festive atmosphere

A.V. Ragunathan
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Devotees and visitors voice concern over unsanitary conditions

Appalling conditions have kept many visitors away from the river front during this year’s festival.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy
Appalling conditions have kept many visitors away from the river front during this year’s festival.— Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

Unsanitary conditions prevailing on the banks of the Then Pennaiyar have rendered the traditional ‘River Festival’ a lacklustre affair. The unseemly sight presented by uncleared garbage puts off visitors and more so the devotees. Cuddalore residents have voiced concern over the matter.

Owing to failure of monsoon, the river had shrunk into a stream and even the little quantum of water flowing there is contaminated with industrial pollution and sewage. The river had virtually turned into a dumping yard for the hoteliers and the poultry owners.

Pigs are frolicking in the pools of muddy water stagnating on the river bed. The appalling conditions have kept away many visitors at the river front.

R. Ganapathi (68), a resident, told this correspondent that during his childhood he had seen the river in its pristine purity.

It was once the major source of drinking water for the residents. Now, even one was hesitant to step into the water, leave alone taking bath or drawing water for drinking purpose.

He recalled that the ‘River festival’ in the days of yore were the most cherished event.

It used to be a picnic spot for families who would go for outing after celebrating Pongal. They would even camp on the riverbed for a day and prepare special dishes. But now the scenario was totally different.

“One has to close one’s nostrils as he/she gets closer to the river. The charm of the river seems to have been lost forever. The ‘River Festival’ has become a routine affair or a ritualistic one sans the true fervour,” Mr. Ganapathi said.

M. Saradha (52), a staunch devotee, who makes it a point to visit the place every year for offering worship to the pantheon of deities being brought to the water front on the occasion, said that more attention ought to be paid for cleansing the river and its environ. She hopes that at least next year the authorities would make the place worthy of the celebrations.

Ghulam (45), who operates the giant wheel in the temporary amusement park that has come up on the dry river bed for the fete, is of the opinion that the civic authorities should do more to spruce up the area.

Multicoloured buntings and flags could be put to spruce up the area.

Stray dogs and pigs ought to be driven away. With little attention from authorities the festival would draw much larger crowd than of now, he said.

The tradition of treating the river as a source of livelihood and therefore worthy of worship could be safeguarded only by keeping the entire course of the river clean, Mr. Ghulam added.

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