The world gears up to celebrate its waterways tomorrow, an event founded by Canadian river conservationist, Mark Angelo.  

World Rivers Day,’ highlights the many values of rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of rivers around the world. 

It was first observed in 2005 and was celebrated across dozens of countries. Since then, the event has continued to grow. It is annually celebrated on the fourth Sunday of every September. Last year, several million people across more than 60 countries celebrated the many values of our waterways.

Regarding the Nilgiri Plateau, Fr. Yacome Finico the first European to set foot among these hills in 1601, and Dr. Buchanan the first Englishman to do so in 1800, make one remark in common, of having had a draught of cool, refreshing water from a clear stream that flowed by. It was once stated, that, it was impossible to travel a few hundred yards without having to cross some stream or other. It is on record that between every pair of undulations, there ran some rivulet or other, which with their alternate quiet pools and chattering rapids, resembled a Scottish moor.

Vis-a-vis the township of Coonoor and its surrounds which are engirdled by an irregular crescent of valley and gorge, the picture painted is very much different. It is one of speedy and turbulent little streams which plunged down the main gorge, to join either the Coonoor River, or the Kallar. Each rivulet and stream appeared to have been flanked with giant tree-ferns, above which arched the umbrageous canopy of jungle trees, with mottled, smooth trunks and twisted branches. Along the banks, in well-sheltered nooks, ferns of many varieties could be found ; while a medley of orchids, dog-roses, honey-suckle, and a large variety of beautiful wild flowers were to be met with. 

But the only legacy which show these hill-streams in all their glory are the photographs left by A. T. W. Penn and a few others.

The speed of progress which is a direct measure of man’s greed, has poisoned these waters, which are now polluted in almost every kind of way. Most have gone dry due to improper land management. The remaining are choked with filth and garbage of all description in addition to being befouled with raw sewage. The banks that once sheltered ferns and other shade loving plants, are presently lined with pestilential lantana scrub and other alien vegetation.

It is time that remedial measures were taken, for water is the matter and matrix, mother and medium of life, and without water, there is no life.

All is not lost, for if salmon could be induced to return for the first time in a century in Britannia Creek, historically one of North America’s most polluted waterways prior to cleaning up ; why not the ‘Endangered’ Nilgiri Danio and Nilgiri Barb, once again be allowed to thrive in the streams of these hills.