Culture-oriented approach needed for river rejuvenation: Conservationist Vinod Nambiar

'It is crucial for the survival of rivers to know them and make others aware of them through such social contexts,' says conservationist Vinod Nambiar. Photo: Special arrangement

Kochi: There must be a holistic approach towards rejuvenating rivers instead of looking at it merely as an environmental issue, engineer-turned-river conservationist Vinod Nambiar said here. Such conservation efforts should have a cultural focus whereby songs, stories and other cultural elements related to a river could be revived, said Nambiar, who is the general secretary of ‘Friends of Bharathapuzha’, a collective chaired by Metroman E Sreedharan. He is also the head of the Vayali Folklore Group.

He was speaking at the 25th edition of ‘Beyond Square Feet’ (BSF), a lecture series organised by Asset Homes in connection with World Environment Day.

Nambiar admitted that the older generation including himself was to be blamed for not teaching the younger generation the importance of nature’s wealth, including rivers.

"If you want to teach children what was and what is a river, then you should show it to them. You also have to make them listen to songs and stories about a river. Then they will ask themselves, without any prompt, the third question is what should be a river in the future,” Nambiar said.

Stressing the need for a holistic approach and highlighting the ironic situation, Nambiar said: “There are at least 36 research articles made on Bharathapuzha so far. At the same time, the river has been robbed of its sand, pebbles and mud. All that remains is some rocks and tall bushes all over the riverbed.”

Citing creative works that featured Bharathappuzha, Nambiar said it was important to learn and create awareness about rivers through different social and cultural contexts. 

“Bharathapuzha is a character in Aravindan’s film ‘Thampu’. The river became the background of many of our films. We have been able to bring out a collection of around 75 poems on Bharathapuzha written by poets right from Vallathol Narayana Menon. It is crucial for the survival of rivers to know them and make others aware of them through such social contexts,” he said.

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