Residents of a village in Kottayam now have a hero who single-handedly transformed a once-neglected and impassable river into a navigable waterway, which has been the main connectivity for several residents.
Armed with nothing but a sickle and a sturdy stick, Anil Kumar, 54, a resident of Enadi at Vaikom, dedicated a year to clearing the three-km stretch of Pullandi River, which had been choked by grass and invasive hyacinth for years.
Anil Kumar, who had studied only up to tenth standard, found time to do this social service even while struggling to make ends meet doing odd jobs. He decided to take up the task of cleaning the river after witnessing the hardships faced by the residents who could only use small canoes for commuting through the choked river.
“For the last several years, the river has been a tangled mess, rendering it impassable for boats and canoes. The residents have to really struggle to take their boat through the river,” Anil Kumar told Open Digest. Undeterred by the daunting task, Anil Kumar began his mission by meticulously cutting through the thick grass and hyacinth with his trusty sickle. Working tirelessly, Anil Kumar made progress, section by section, until he successfully cleared the entire 3 km stretch. “It took me a year to clean the river between Kaattithara and Kalluthankadavu,” Anil Kumar said.
Anil Kumar is now a happy man when he sees the residents easily navigating their boats through the restored river, which has now become a source of pride for the community, offering a picturesque and navigable waterway once again.
The local residents felicitated Anil Kumar for his selfless effort, recognising the positive impact on both the environment and the quality of life in Greenfield Village. His dedication has not only rejuvenated the river but has also sparked a renewed sense of environmental responsibility among residents. Grama panchayat officials are now considering measures for the river’s long-term maintenance, ensuring that Anil Kumar’s efforts become a lasting legacy for the community.