Rajeevan spent most of his life watching his favourite river die.
For two decades, the Kuttemperoor river in south Kerala’s Alappuzha district slowly choked under the weight of rampant illegal sand mining and construction sites that dumped tons of sewage on its once-pristine banks. Fish and aquatic life were wiped out, and the once-gurgling river of Rajeevan’s childhood was reduced to a narrow cesspool of festering diseases.
Not anymore. A 700-strong local group of villagers, mostly women, have spent weeks wading through toxic waste, algae and risking deadly water-borne diseases to physically de-silt and clean the river.
After 70 days of back-breaking effort, the results began to show. The 12-kilometre long river now brims with water, the stench is gone and children are playing on its green banks once more.
“I never thought Kuttemperoor will come to life again,” said Rajeevan, a 55-year-old driver.
It wasn’t easy. The women workers of Budhanoor recall how many …
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