A boat ride to bring a river back to life

On a mission: Volunteers of Prakrithi Samrakshana Samiti taking out boat rides through the Kallai river in Kozhikode on Friday as part of a campaign to conserve the river.

On a mission: Volunteers of Prakrithi Samrakshana Samiti taking out boat rides through the Kallai river in Kozhikode on Friday as part of a campaign to conserve the river.   | Photo Credit: K_RAGESH;K_RAGESH -

Environmentalists’ group finds that years of neglect reduced Kallai to a mass of black water

The younger generation of the fishing community at Thekkeppuram in Kozhikode is reluctant to take up fishing. The reason: the pathetic condition of the Kallai river.

The issue came to light after a boat ride undertaken by the Prakrithi Samrakshana Samiti through the Kallai on Friday to analyse the condition of the river.

It was found that with the construction of a breakwater at Kothi, the traditional fishing community in the vicinity lost access to the Kallai estuary where they used to park their boats.

As a result, they had to park their boats at either Puthiyapa or Beypore located quite far away. The new generation lacks the patience to collect the boats from afar before they set out for fishing early in the morning. Hence, they have completely pulled out of the profession.

However, the change in lifestyle of the younger generation of Thekkeppuram residents was not the focus of the study carried out by the group of volunteers and nature enthusiasts who took a ride through the river in about 50 fishing boats. They wanted to find the reasons that had led to the virtual death of the river, which was once the lifeline of Kozhikode city.

The findings pointed to years of neglect that had reduced the river into a mass of black water.

“More than 70 drainages open into the river, in addition to the sewage that flows into it from some houses, clubs and institutions. There are no fish in the river at present.

Other than the water that flows in from the Arabian Sea during high tide, there is no flow of water in any part of the river at present. The natural flow of water down the stream has been hindered by encroachments,” said T.V. Rajan, the secretary of the Samiti.

The group also took note of the pathetic condition of the Kallai bridge. “Parts of the concrete have fallen off and the iron roads have come out. It is risky to allow traffic on the bridge any longer,” said Mr. Rajan. The team led by noted environmentalist A. Achuthan began their ride from the Kothi estuary, passed through Mankavu and Kaduppini, and concluded the trip under the Kallai bridge.

The team has decided to petition the district administration. “The Kallai is no longer known by that name. We want it back in its original glory. Its uninterrupted flow should be ensured right from Cherukulathur, its origin, by clearing encroachments. We also want a fish landing centre and a boat jetty in the Kallai estuary to lure the younger generation of Thekkeppuram back into the profession,” said Mr. Rajan.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 12:48:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/a-boat-ride-to-bring-a-river-back-to-life/article19526532.ece

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