KOZHIKODE: The Save Punoor Puzha Forum will launch a one-day drive on August 19 to clean up the 53-km-long Poonoor River that flows through 11 grama panchayats and parts of the Kozhikode Corporation.
Hundreds of volunteers are expected to take part in the drive with the slogan ‘zero budget; zero waste’. Local bodies will play an active role, though without having to spend money.
The river has been divided into several stretches of 200 metres each. A group of five National Service Scheme (NSS) volunteers will be in charge of each stretch. And, grama panchayats will select 10 expert divers well acquainted with the river from among local people to help the NSS volunteers. The divers will collect accumulated waste in the river stretch designated to them and pass it on to the NSS volunteers, who will then segregate and pack it.
While biodegradable waste will be buried on the spot, non-biodegradable waste will be sent for recycling under the aegis of Niravu Vengeri, which is also the nodal agency for the project.
Around 5,000 people, including 1,202 NSS volunteers and around 3,000 local residents, will be part of the drive. The list of divers will be finalised by Wednesday, while most NSS units in the district have expressed willingness to be part of the project.
Meanwhile, a workshop organised at the Centre for Water Resources Development and Management on Monday analysed the scientific aspects and stressed the need for local people to become protectors of the river. The workshop suggested opening a school for studies on water, agriculture, and environment protection. However, the duty of the volunteers does not end with the one-day drive. They are to visit the stretch they are allotted on October 2 to review the situation. IT@Niravu has developed a mobile application to monitor the situation. Any issues detected will be dealt with by the district administration.
At a later stage, the volunteers will plant aquatic plants and watch out for encroachments. The second phase of cleaning will be conducted during the annual NSS camp in December.
Dumping of slaughter waste beneath bridges is a major threat to the project and hence, the district administration plans to deploy security personnel on bridges at night. The volunteers will also undertake awareness activities on both banks of the river.
“A salient feature of the mission,” said Niravu Vengeri project coordinator Babu Parambath, “is that it is a zero-budget programme. It banks on the willingness and dedication of the people involved.
At a time when crores of rupees are spent on river clean-up drives, the Poonoor river cleaning programme will be a welcome model. The project is part of the NABARD Water Campaign.