River rescue

Several river protection councils in Kerala have joined hands to fight the grave dangers threatening rivers in the state. Named the All Kerala River Protection Council (IKRPC), the organisation started work on October 3. It proposes to bring together all local organisations and individual activists who are engaged in the protection of rivers.

IKRPC will try to identify the problems afflicting the state's rivers. It will investigate and find solutions to all the problems afflicting the rivers and ensure that they are imple- mented through various channels - government, local bodies or public action. The council will create a group of experts who will identify and investigate problems as and when needed.

Awareness, particularly among those who live in the banks of the rivers, about the need for protec- tion of rivers is crucial for the success of any programme. Realising the importance of mass participation, IKRPC will try to make local people understand the importance of rivers, and involve them in their activities. Through the develop- ment of green belts wherever possi- ble, the organisation will attempt to rejuvenate the catchment areas and prevent embankment erosion. Over the years, the catchment areas of most of the rivers have been destroyed. The resulting soil erosion has led to siltation of the rivers and flooding during the monsoons. This in turn leads to embankment erosion.

IKRPC also hopes to impress upon policymakers and planners by making them understand that future development activities involving the use of riverine resources should be limited. It will call on the state government to create a river autho- rity for all the major rivers in the state and bring it under the purview of the proposed National River Policy. Besides, the IKRPC proposes to initiate studies on the contribution of rivers to the cultural heritage of Kerala.