This Kottayam man's ‘plunge’ saves a river from early death

Anil Kumar removes weed accumulated in Pullandi river. Photo: Special Arrangement

Kottayam: A man decided to take a literal plunge and it changed the ‘course’ of a river. Anil Kumar, 54, of Enadi, within Chembu panchayat of Vaikom, Kottayam district, took upon himself the task of reviving an expansive stretch of the languishing Pullandi river.

This river, once a vital artery of the place, was being choked by the relentless growth of wild grass, known locally as 'kadakal;' and the proliferation of water hyacinth; and pandanus (a palm-like shrub).

In Enadi, approximately 70 families have to cross the river to access the outside world. Every day, for them, it was a struggle to navigate their country crafts through the choked waters and they yearned for relief. The riverine flora also started encroaching on the neighbouring canals, making it immensely difficult for more people.

Anil Kumar’s journey began with a proposal to the panchayat president. A 65-member team was formed to tackle the issue, with Anil Kumar as its convener. The team soon retreated, daunted by the enormity of the task and insisting that heavy machinery was needed for the job. Unwavering, Anil Kumar refused to abandon the cause, determined to restore the river to its former glory.

“People have been struggling for the past six years. I was saddened to see the river moving to death. The team formed by the panchayat backtracked and said the work could be completed only using earth movers. But I decided that I should take up the task,” Anil Kumar, a daily wage labourer, said.

Anil Kumar, with nothing more than a sturdy stick and a humble sickle, embarked on his mission. Armed with determination and resilience, he wielded his stick like a sword, slicing through the dense grass and tenacious water hyacinth. Section by section, he carefully removed the invasive growth, transporting it to the shore, where it withered away in the sun. It was a laborious process that spanned an entire year.

Anil Kumar now sets his sights on the second phase — a strategic effort to fortify the entire stretch of the river, ensuring that it remains free of wild plant growth in the future.

In a heartwarming culmination of his efforts, Anil Kumar found himself being applauded by the panchayat and the residents. They came together to honour him for his extraordinary feat, one that had breathed new life into their community.

Anil Kumar’s tireless dedication not only rejuvenated the river but also rekindled a sense of environmental responsibility within the panchayat administration. Now, they are actively contemplating measures to ensure the river’s long-term maintenance and preservation, a fitting tribute to a man whose unwavering resolve and hard work made a significant difference in the lives of an entire village.

“I am happy that my community members are in a better place now and I could contribute to that. I will continue this kind of work so that more people are inspired by it,” he said. 

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.