“Nature is lenient. It often does not punish us for our sins immediately.”

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948)

Thus stated the Great Soul, whose 150th birth anniversary is being celebrated throughout the nation and across the world today.

The Mahatma never used the word environment protection. During his time environmental problems were not recognized. However these simple words which he uttered during a prayer meeting held on 21 April 1946, makes him an environmentalist with an amazing foresight and rare insight. 

Nature has indeed been benevolent as far as this township is concerned, for instance, take the case of the Upper Stream of the Coonoor River.  The stream was once known to have flowed with an average width of about fifty to sixty feet, but now flows at a mere twenty,  its waters choked and befouled with waste of all description. 

Ten days have rolled by since Clean Coonoor and the District Administration initiated cleanup operations on this sheet of water. Nearly 1500 metric tonnes of soil and debris which had been deliberately or carelessly dumped inside have been removed so far. The quantity excavated is from a stretch measuring just a mere 300 feet or so. There are miles and miles to go and an unknown quantity of detritus to be removed, before this stream can finally be labelled as free-flowing.

Yet despite the dumping, nature vented her ire just once after a lapse of nearly three decades. The heavy rains of 2009 caused this badly choked-up stream to overflow its banks and cause a few landslips. Luckily there was no loss of human life, only a few railway lines, sleepers, and such, stored on its steep banks, were washed away. These have subsequently been retrieved during the cleanup operations.

Yet even after a decade subsequent to this calamity, we still haven’t learnt the lesson, and the dumping into this stream still goes unchecked.

The Mahatma is also known to have remarked that by defiling waterbodies, we destroy the dharma of compassion and disregard our duty to society. 

No truer words were ever spoken, for we put innocent lives at stake, by facilitating spread of waterborne disease, and also by promoting human-made disasters which are entirely avoidable.