Kerala

A challenge to restore Meenachil river’s beauty

A long expanse of lawn, where butterflies flutter around, goes down till the edge of the water that flows past the countryside. On the grassland, a vast array of trees and picnic groves are neatly lined up.

This riverside locale on the foothills of the Western Ghats, which offers a fantastic view of a check-dam on the Kunnonni canal, near Poonjar Thekkekara, and beyond, is now setting the model for a unique challenge to restore the beauty of the Meenachil river in Kottayam. The challenge, named “Green shore, Beaming shore” (Haritabha Threeam, Abhimana Theeram), will take off to a start at four locations along the river’s course in June this year.

According to Eby Emmanuel, general secretary of the Meenachil River Protection Committee, the initiative takes a cue from the experiences of Naalumanikattu, near Kottayam, and the Kunnonni canal beautification project that have helped check waste dumping in waterbodies.

“To start with, the project will be implemented at four locations, Vazhikkadavu in Vagamon, Pathampuzha, near Poonjar, Malayinchippara and another location in the downstream. Based on its success, the project will be expanded to more areas as several volunteer groups have expressed interest in the challenge,” he said.

Volunteer groups

The challenge, according to him, envisages developing select locations along the riverbanks through aesthetic planting and landscaping, which will also help soil conservation. “The designing and development of each of these locales will be entrusted to a particular individual or a collective like Mithranikethan in Vazhikadavu or the St. Joseph’s Upper Primary School in Malayinchippara. Help from outside, including that of the Social Forestry Department, will be sought in procuring endemic plant varieties and preparing a support system,” he added.

A recent survey along the Meenachil’s shores, carried out by the Kottayan Nature Society, has confirmed the presence of several species endemic to the southern Western Ghats in the vegetation cover there.

Arun K. Jans, who developed the 200-m grassy meadow at Kunnonni, said the project drew inspiration from his childhood memories of rocky shores with boulders jutting from the water and trees lining the banks. This view, however, gave way to a slew of development works such as bank restoration and road construction.

“We began by planting imported varieties like arcalia trees but soon turned to the local species. Now it feels completely part of the glorious countryside that once surrounded it,” he said.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 5:07:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/a-challenge-to-restore-meenachil-rivers-beauty/article34297522.ece

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