Members of the Keystone Foundation, along with members of the local community, have been on a week-long initiative to restore one stretch of the Kookkalthorai stream in Kotagiri.
The restoration project, which is part of the larger HCL project, aims to clean a 250-m stretch of the stream. Shiny Miriam Rehel, programme co-ordinator for the Biodiversity Restoration Programme at Keystone Foundation, said that there was a tremendous amount of demand for water in the region, both for residences as well as for agriculture.
“Close to 3,500 borewells have been dug in and around Kookkalthorai, while around 6,800 acres act as the watershed, of which more than 1,000 is used for agricultural purposes,” said Ms. Rehel.
Like many other streams in the region, the one in Kookkalthorai too has been narrowed due to encroachments, with invasive species of flora taking over many parts of the stream bed. “While invasive flora are drawing huge quantities of water from the ground, the quality of the water too is deteriorating due to intensive, chemical-fertilizer-based agriculture. The solid waste generated locally too is clogging the streams,” a statement from Keystone Foundation said.
The efforts of volunteers have mobilised the local community in aiding the restoration process, with merchants and residents having agreed to contribute towards the clean-up effort, including two local farmer groups that have close to 200 members.
In just over two days, volunteers managed to collect over 1,200 kg of plastic materials from the stream. The clean-up operation will continue till the end of the week, followed by efforts to restore the river, with the planting of grasses and shrubs.
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