Quoting Jacques Yves Cousteau, ‘ We make deserts bloom but let waterbodies die.’

The same is true of the Coonoor River and her three major feeders which flow through the town. They are now the ignoble receptacle for all the flotsam and jetsam and the sewage and sullage generated in the township.

Clean Coonoor on its part has cleaned up a kilometre stretch of the middle stream which flows through the municipal market. The entire operations which lasted for 42 days, employed both manual and mechanical means, yielded some 12000 tonnes of debris. The same has been carted to the garbage dump belonging to the municipality where it has been put to use to make a landfill.

Preliminary assessment
Floatsam and jetsam
Manual cleanup
Mini excavator at work
Gathering the debris

As a first step to prevent further sullying of the river and discourage future dumping, the local body has erected a 7-9 foot high and 398 metre long fence stretching from the municipal Market to V. P. Street. The construction cost which amounted to Rs 7 lakhs has been entirely borne by the Mumbai based firm ‘ISPARAVA HOMES,’ as part of its ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ activities.

Clean Coonoor also commenced work on cleaning the upper stream of the river from 22 September 2019, which happened to be World Rivers Day and brought it to a successful conclusion on 17 October. A total of around 5 kilo tonnes of debris was removed and the stream which had an average width of 20 feet now flows at fifty.

After ensuring that the river will never be clogged again, the organisation plans to start Phase-III, a manual clean-up of the bit, which extends downstream from the Coonoor Bridge to Kanni Mariamman Kovil.  

The operations on this stretch will commence as soon as the monsoon blows over.

The organisation is also closely working with the municipal authorities to find ways and means to prevent raw untreated sewage from being emptied into the river.

Coonoor River’s Sorrow – Poem

Varada Menon, Oct, 17 2018

To the seven sacred rivers of India,
I am a sister
And I am weeping.
My tears are blocked;
I am jailed and tortured;
I cannot flow
With the wild abandon
as before.

I am filled with debris,
My song is almost stilled.
I weep silently.
No one sees my sorrow,
No one sees my tears
Or my fears.
They only see me as a means
To rid them of their waste.

I am so soiled, so neglected;
Save me please
Let me once again be
A flowing-free sister
Of Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswathi,
Brahmaputra, Narmada,
Godavari and Kaveri.
Let me not be still.