250 tonnes of waste fished out of Cauvery river after cleanliness drive

Apr 27, 2018

Despite being hailed for its religious significance, the Cauvery is also one of the most polluted rivers in the state. “And the full extent to which the river has been abused was witnessed by us during a trip to Madikeri last year. We had gone to Kushalnagar on a reforestation programme and on stopping at the bridge on the outskirts of the town, we realised what was happening to the river. The amount of waste that people had disposed left us shocked. I decided right there that we would return and start clearing the river and complete it before the onset of monsoons in 2018. I am glad we have lived up to what we willed,” says social activist Chakravarti Sulibele, who along with the volunteers of his Yuva Brigade spent an entire year to clean up the river. The campaign was titled Jeeva Nadige Jeeva Thumbi. It recently culminated in the historic town of Srirangapatna.

Chakravarti and his team began the cleanliness drive at Balamuri in Madikeri last year. They identified seven important points along the Cauvery belt to carry forth their mission. “We then arrived at Siddapura followed by Kushalnagar and then the historically significant town of Ramnathapura. In Ramnathapura alone, 50 tractors were needed to ferry all the filth we had pulled out of the the river. Srirangapatna was next, where three spots were earmarked to clean up the mess and these included Snana Ghatta, Paschima Vahini and Nimishamba,” says Chakravarti. “What we noticed during the entire drive was that 90% of the villages on the banks of the river, dispose waste, including drainage, into the river. Also, owing to religious and superstitious beliefs, many folk scatter the remains of the deceased along with their belongings into the river. These include saris, pots and pans, bangles, photo frames of gods and other household articles. My volunteers suffered deep gashes from the glass frames that accompany these religious photos. Add to that the mounds of plastic that irresponsible tourists leave behind. You cannot even imagine the kind of dirt, filth and murky things we have pulled out from the river,” adds an exasperated Chakravarti.

Srirangapatna being the last point of their year-long task, the group has succeeded in fishing out 250 tonnes of waste that was ferried in over 100 tractors. “We had 500 volunteers participating throughout our drive, so, 5,200 man hours later, here we are,’ says Chakravarti. But this is just the beginning; the task at hand is not over yet, he concedes. “The Cauvery is not in a healthy condition. If 10% of this problem is owing to the reckless behaviour of citizens, 90% is because of the callous attitude of the government. We don’t need to wage mindless fights for her; what the river truly needs is your attention, is what I’d like to tell our leaders. It is pathetic that we drink the same water in our homes. Another aspect that needs to be looked into is how astrologers propagate disposing belongings of the deceased into these waters. We are not against religious beliefs. But if the authorities designate specific spots for such activities, it will prevent people from polluting the river all along the belt. Please remember that rivers are the life force of a nation. If you consider the Cauvery holy, learn to treat her right,” Chakravarti signs off.