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Textbook Example of Restoration

A biologically dead river in southern India has been completely revived thanks to local dedication and government involvement. The efforts behind the river's comeback are expected to inspire similar projects in the future.

Kuttamperoor River, Kerala
Kuttamperoor River–Before and After (YouTube screenshots) Credit: Budhanoor Grama Panchayat

A tributary of the Pampa and Achencoil rivers, the 4 mile Kuttamperoor River has for centuries been a source of life and drinking water for rural communities in Kerala. Irrigating more than 2,000 acres of land, and providing a lifeline for 500 fishermen families, the Kettamperoor River played a central role in the local community. However, three decades of misuse, waste-dumping and neglect led to the river becoming biologically dead; choked with weeds and polluted with trash.

Those days are now gone and the river is once again clean and flourishing. It's all thanks to a collaborative effort between locals living along the banks and the support of the Kerala state government. First came the Herculean effort by 7,000 villagers who scooped out the tangled masses of aquatic weeds and the mountains of trash along the 4 mile stretch - achieved in just 2 months.

After that, the state government took over and created the conditions for life to return. They worked alongside the denizens of the river, who offered off up some of their land to allow for a widening of the river.

Five years later, the hard work has paid off. Fish and other animals are back in the river, and its flow width has grown from about 45 feet (15m) to around 150 feet (50m).

The Hindu reports that the success has become literally a textbook example of restoration, and made national headlines when Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned it in a national radio address. Officials said the revival of the river was also expected to boost tourism in the region.


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