Our rivers are disappearing right before our eyes and the public and their elected governments are responsible for this, actor V.K. Sreeraman has said. “No government has so far taken a stance on protecting rivers,” he said, addressing a gathering on the banks of the Periyar river at Pathalam on Saturday while inaugurating the valedictory of the campaign Ozhukanam Puzhakal. The two-month campaign was aimed at highlighting the importance of maintaining water flow in rivers.
Mr. Sreeraman quoted from Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, and added that man’s selfishness was destroying the earth because people felt that everything existed for them alone. Environmental activists, including C.R. Neelakandan, V.S. Vijayan, T.V. Sajeev and Purushan Eloor, spoke.
“For our rivers to flow we need to change our pattern of development, which is now destroying nature,” said Dr. Vijayan. He highlighted how the recent amendment to the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act had changed the law.
The event highlighted a “River, river basin and river rejuvenation policy for Kerala” drawn up by the All Kerala River Protection Council, an organisation for the conservation of rivers, water sources, the Western Ghats and wetlands, and submitted to K.T. Thomas in January. The policy mentions that rivers have their own right to flow, and demands an action plan for every river basin, creating a river basin authority, conservation of forests and wetlands that sustain rivers.
“We hope to conduct a workshop in April to clear all lacunae and submit the action plan to the government,” said Mr. Eloor.
Ozhukanam Puzhakal was organised by Friends of Latha, a countrywide group of people associated with the late A. Latha who had been at the forefront of fighting for rivers, especially the Chalakudy river. Over the past two months, river walks, painting workshops, panel discussions, and lake clean-ups were organised as part of the campaign.