Locals up in arms against DDMA removing boulders from Chalippuzha

The part of Chalippuzha that has been levelled and cleared of boulders.  

The Chalippuzha has been hosting the international kayaking championship in Kozhikode for five years. The river was chosen for the purpose, from among the rivers in the State, for its treacherous rapids. However, with the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) demolishing boulders and levelling the river, it is highly unlikely that the Chalippuzha will ever host the championship again.

The people in three wards of the Kodenchery grama panchayat have turned against the DDMA for destroying the natural flow of the river and its biodiversity. The DDMA started trenching the river and removing the boulders as a precaution against flooding. The boulders and trees that were washed away by the river during the floods in 2018 and 2019 had created a “dam effect” after they got stuck between the pillars of an irrigation bund in the river and the resultant flood had caused much damage.

However, local people alleged that the river was being destroyed without conducting any scientific study. “They started the demolition when the election code of conduct was in place and hence none of us could intervene. The local people were scared to go against a body headed by the District Collector,” said Baby Kottupally, a former member of the panchayat.

Recently, the All Kerala River Protection Committee visited the site and assessed the damage. “We cannot reverse the damage caused by this unscientific step even if we spend crores on it. But, further destruction needs to be averted,” said T.V. Rajan, State General Secretary of the committee.

The people of the three tribal colonies nearby too are concerned about the destruction of the river as it is the means of their livelihood. “The tribal youth used to catch fish and crabs from the river for food and even bathed in it. But now, the crabs and fish have disappeared and the river has been reduced to a playground,” said Mr. Kottupally.

Mr. Rajan alleged that the river has been converted into a “canal” for half a kilometre, destroying its natural flow. The trees along the river bank have also been cut down. Using compressors to break the boulders have caused cracks on the walls of nearby houses.

The kayakers on the other hand fear the loss of venues for the championship, which has found a place in the world tourism map and had attracted participation from around 25 countries in the previous seasons. “A straight flowing river is of no use for kayaking. The beauty of a river is when it flows over the boulders and creates rapids,” said Mr. Kottupally.

The Kodenchery grama panchayat has taken a stand against changing the course of the river and plans to take up the issue with higher authorities.

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Printable version | Mar 7, 2021 9:42:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/locals-up-in-arms-against-ddma-removing-boulders-from-chalippuzha/article33595356.ece

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