12,000 tonnes of soil, waste cleared from Coonoor River

During the clean-up, volunteers retrieved entire sofa sets, pieces of furniture, and even an auto from Coonoor River.   | Photo Credit: Rohan Premkumar

More than a month after it was started, the clean-up of the Coonoor River is almost complete, with over 12,000 tonnes of soil and waste, accumulated over many decades being cleaned by members of Clean Coonoor, a local Non-Government Organisation.

The clean-up operation targeted a 1.5-km stretch of the river which runs through the heart of the town.

According to officials, the river, which is fed by three smaller streams in Coonoor and eventually drains into the Bhavani River in Coimbatore, is polluted right from its source, by the owners of slaughterhouses who dump animal waste into it, as well as by local residents and merchants from the Coonoor Market who dispose of sewage and garbage into it.

Samantha Iyanna, managing trustee of Clean Coonoor, said the cleaning up of the river was imperative to ensure a safe source of drinking water for wildlife which populates the Nilgiris, as well as for residents who depended on the water further downstream in other districts.

During the clean-up, volunteers retrieved entire sofa sets, pieces of furniture, and even an autorickshaw which had become embedded at the bottom of the river.

“Based on old photographs, we can discern that the river itself was much wider than what it is currently. Due to encroachments, some portions of the river are very narrow and are prone to flooding,” said P. J. Vasanthan, trustee of Clean Coonoor.

At the very least, the volunteers said that the river clean up would minimise the risk of flooding within Coonoor town, and also ensure free flow of water in the river. “However, all of this work will not amount to much if the enforcement of rules, such as preventing people from dumping sewage and waste into the stream, is not prevented,” said Mr. Vasanthan.

The volunteers called upon the district administration to set up a treatment facility where the sewage could be treated before being released into the river, or collected and treated elsewhere. “There should be fines to deter people from disposing of garbage in the river,” said Ms. Iyanna. “Of the 12,000 tonnes, at least 30 % was plastic and cloth waste,” said Mr. Vasanthan.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 12:23:25 AM |

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