Rejuvenation of the riverine system is an approach to conserve the riverbed, riparian ecosystem, and most importantly, the watershed. It aids in re-establishing an adequate flow of water in rivulets that have been encroached on or have dried up. The sustainability of such an initiative is entirely dependent on community participation.
The Manimala River and its watershed are highly polluted by unchecked encroachments, dumping of domestic waste and thousands of liters of municipal sewage daily, destroying mountain wetlands, blocking springs and streams, and polluting groundwater. This results in scarcity of drinking water, loss of biodiversity, and danger of floods and landslides. This project engages with the local community and administration to address these issues and secure the Manimala River and 781 sq. km. of the watershed area.
Meenachil is the main river passing through 34 Gram Panchayats and 4 municipalities in Kottayam district. Meenanthara and Kodoor rivers are tributaries, which were connected in the past at many locations through small streams and rivulets (puzha), but many such connections have been lost because of changes in land use and encroachments. Cutting off small water channels in this manner has resulted in thousands of acres of paddy fields turning barren. The Meenachil River was once an ideal breeding ground for more than 70 varieties of fishes but now the aquatic diversity has been drastically depleted because of decreasing inflow of water. Illegal sand mining has also altered the original course of the river.
Meenachil-Meenanthara-Kodoor Rejoining Peoples Collective (MMKRPC) evolved to rejuvenate these three rivers by re-joining them through the connecting rivulets and streams. As a technical partner to this massive project, TIES has the responsibility for research, developing initiatives, implementing activities and reaching out to potential partners to support project activities such as the one at Elipulikkattukadavu.
This project has active community participation with local administration support at every stage for the restoration of rivulets; waste management; water, land & soil conservation; and awareness & capacity building. Awareness campaigns have already garnered support for "Ende Manimalayar" (My Manimala) with 'River Walks' by local residents and the administration has cleared plastic waste and encroachments in some micro-watersheds.