A once-biologically dead river in southern India has been revived to the fullest extent thanks to local dedication and government involvement.
A tributary of the Pampa and Achencoil rivers, the 4-mile-long Kuttamperoor River has for centuries been a source of life and drinking water for rural communities in Kerala.
Irrigating more than 2,000 acres of rice paddy, and providing a lifeline for 500 fishermen families, the Kettamperoor River played a huge role in the local community.
However, over three decades of a mixture of misuse and neglect led to the river becoming biologically dead; choked with weeds, and polluted with trash.
Floods, once rare, became a common occurrence, and by 2005 the sorry state of affairs on the Kettampreroor led even to the contamination of groundwater sources.
Those days are gone—thanks to a collaborative effort between the Kerala state government, the Budhanoor village council, and the participation of locals along the banks, the Kettamperoor has been resurrected.
A large number of workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme took to the shallows to scoop out the tangled masses of aquatic weeds and trash.
7,000 villagers from the three communities donated around 30,000 man-hours of work to finish the initial clean up in just 2 months.
After that, the state government in Kerala on the southwest tip of India took over and created the conditions for life to return. They worked alongside the denizens of the river, who offered off up some of their land for a planned expansion of the river’s banks.
Five years and around $1.5 million (₹13 crore) later, fish and other animals were back in the river, whose flow width had grown from a few dozen feet to around half a football field in length.
The Hindu reports that the success has become literally a textbook example of restoration, and made national headlines when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned it in a national radio address, known as a Mann Ki Baat.