Rising from the dead is easier said than done. But it may not be an impossible task, at least, in the case of resurrecting a river. The Kuttamperoor river in Alappuzha, dead for more than a decade, has completed its comeback to life.
The rebirth of the 7.2-km waterbody, a tributary of the Pampa and Achencoil rivers, has been made possible over a period of six years through public participation and government intervention. "The Kuttamperoor river restoration project has been completed. As part of redeeming the river, we have deepened the channel, removed encroachments, constructed bunds on both sides and rejuvenated it with a width of 50 m," says an official of the Major Irrigation department.
The department is now awaiting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's date to organise a public function to make the official declaration.
After rejuvenation, quiet flows the Kuttamperoor river, which emanates from the Achencovil river at Ulunthy and meanders through Bhudhanoor, Chennithala and Mannar grama panchayats before joining the Pampa river at Kadampur. It has harked back to life, but the efforts behind it will be remembered for quite some time.
Once a lifeline for the region by providing water for drinking and irrigating large tracts of paddy fields and transporting goods, Kuttamperoor has been reduced to a drain and died a slow death around 2005 due to waste dumping, encroachments and other anthropogenic activities. The 100-m river had shrunk to less than 15 m at many locations due to encroachments, and its poor state resulted in wells drying up in several places.
The first effort to revive the river was made in 2011, but it took another five years to get the project rolling. Spearheaded by the Budhanoor panchayat, the initial cleaning was carried out by workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREG) scheme.
"It took over 200 workers and 60 days to clean up the river by removing water weeds, plastic and other waste. We spent around ₹75 lakh for the purpose. Later, the State government took over the rejuvenation project, which helped revive the river in full. Restoration of water flow has brought many freshwater fish species back to the river," says P. Viswambhara Panicker, former president, Budhanoor panchayat.
Apart from clearing encroachments, several residents along the river have provided land for the river project. The government has given a total of ₹11.7 crore for various works. The revival of the river is expected to help control floods in the region.