Environment

Treat the rivers well

Rivers act as source of rejuvenating the weary soul.

ByKajal Chatterjee

Updated on 8 Jan 2022, 12:07 pm

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

As the train approached the bridge over Mahanadi while on our journey to Puri, the four-year-old in me shuddered in fear. It was dark outside with moonlight reflecting on the waters of the "never-ending" river down below with the trembled me admonishing my parents ---- "So this is the reason why you have ventured on a trip, just to drown to death"!

But just four years later; far from getting alarmed of getting drowned to death, I felt extreme excitement in having the night sleep upon the flowing waters of another river ie on a slightly oscillating houseboat upon the Jhelum in Srinagar! The Shikara ride on the river with bridges of Srinagar passing above was sheer delight!

While we have lunched on a restaurant overlooking the Trishuli river on the way to Kathmandu, relished our food beside Bhutan's Sankosh river with Punakha Dzong's divine presence on the confluence of Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu right in front of the eyes, indulged in picnic on the banks of Damodar; but never did I imagine that we will be fortunate to have our food right upon a river bed itself! And that happened during the journey from Bhalukpong to Dirang when our convoy stopped on the middle of the Kameng river in Arunachal Pradesh! While waters were flowing at its mightiest along one bank of the broad river, 75 per cent of it along with the middle portion was absolutely dry with few narrow branches flowing here and there. Lofty Himalayan ridges on all sides, what a lunch right upon the river bed with kash flowers "nodding their heads" and rocks of all possible dimensions and hues  acting as our luncheon chairs and tables!

Rivers also provide an addition element to beauty. Without the flow of Beas Lidder Ganga Mandovi Brahmaputra Paro Chhu in their midst; Kulu Pahalgaon Hardwar Panaji Guwahati Paro respectively would surely not have been the same place as of today! Perhaps Taj Mahal would have still got regarded as another wonder of the world and Agra Fort surely retaining its historic aura; but there lies no doubt to the fact that the Yamuna flowing by have lent gallons of charm to these two edifices of stone!

While I had witnessed how Mandovi river acted as a link between North Goa and South Goa(in mid-80s there was no bridge over it, so ferries used to connect Panaji in South to the Northern part of the state or further North to Maharashtra), Bagmati flowing by the Pasupatinath Temple at Kathmandu serves as a holy passage between life and death in the minds of the believers inspiring them to cremate their own on its bank.

On the bank of the Swarnarekha river in Jamshedpur, I got amazed to view how rivers serve the society in so many ways. From having baths to washing clothes to picking stones for construction purposes to cleansing the cattle --- what a buzz of activities surrounding it!

While Mumbaikars or Chennaites can get refreshed by venturing  the beach, the Hooghly serves the same for the Kolkatans. Apart from the surreal sunset by the Hooghly upon the backdrop of the two gallant bridges, the cruise on the river acts as a source of rejuvenating the weary soul.

And never would I forget the charm of Wang Chhu which meanders along the highway from Phuentsholing to Thimphu. During our return, the bus made a stop where Wang Chhu is flowing at the nearest point from the highway. So to have a touch and feel of it, we reached its bank. Since the water was crystal clear, the innumerable pebbles on the bed were noticeable, one of which I have picked from the flowing waters serving me as a constant reminder to the Bhutanese environment bordering on sheer divinity.

Though the pebble of a river can offer me a source of spiritual inspiration and its water lifeline to billions, the very same river waters can destruct habitation after habitation within hours rendering people homeless or dead. Why not; after all as you sow, so you reap! I am shuddered to see how the waters of Hooghly are being “captured” by the vested interests by dumping solid materials upon it so as to build residential high rises and reap economic dividend with all units of administration preferring to remain blind! This very thing happened in Uttarakhand also leading to vast destruction of life and property when waters swelled up the banks due to unscrupulous encroachment. There were existence of a number of tributaries of Hooghly namely Kunti and Saraswati few decades ago also, but today it have been consigned to oblivion thanks to sheer lust of people and utter callousness of the concerned authorities. Where would the waters flow following a sharp deluge? So as to harness hydroelectricity, dams are being built at random high above the landslide prone earthquake zones of Himalayas in Uttarakhand and Sikkim. God forbid, but just imagine what would happen if any disaster struck the region!

So whether we would like to have our rivers as a friend offering us beauty spiritual strength services sustenance and lifeline or a monster out to devour us depend 100 per cent upon the decisions actions and mindset of us.

First published:8 Jan 2022, 12:07 pm

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Kajal Chatterjee

Kajal Chatterjee

Special Contributor, KOLKATA, West Bengal

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