Smelly rivers..!

GETTING off the aircraft at Chennai, my friend escorts me to his car and we drive in majestic stateliness to our usual haunt, the Madras Gymkhana. There old world waiters in British Raj attire move quietly and effortlessly taking orders with respect and utmost politeness. All’s well, except the smell.
From all around comes the stink of the Cooum River. Actually, it hits you even as you get out of the car, but you politely pretend it doesn’t exist after all you don’t want friendship offended by slight twitching of a nose. And then you realise after awhile smell is here to stay.
Much was spoken about the cleaning of the Ganga in Varanasi. A central minister was appointed just for the purpose, funds were allotted, great fanfare was attached to the buying of huge machinery but the dirt and filth and smell remain. I remember the beautiful Taj-Mahal, but what also remains etched in my memory is the filthy river that flows around the Taj. “Why did you twitch your nose when the picture was taken?” ask relatives poring over albums of me holding my wife’s hand near the Taj, “Aren’t you both happy?” “We are!” I say lamely, “But the river smell hit me just when the picture was clicked!”
Somehow in our country, we think that a river and a gutter are the same. We believe a river is meant to be the dumping ground of our waste, not realizing the river brings life giving water quite often to a barren and dry land. According to Wikipedia, the Cooum, smells because of a discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents and encroachment along the banks, it continues to say that the river, especially the downstream, has been highly polluted!
In Mumbai every year, much is talked about the dredging of rivers and streams that are supposed to carry monsoon water to the sea. An official visits the dredging area. The dredger starts working. The official leaves. The dredger stops. Because nobody can see under the water, nobody can assess the work done, and the man in charge either can’t be bothered or is paid to look the other way.
How ever can we, a nation that worships our rivers do this? It’s time we started looking after our rivers, otherwise it’s the same tale everywhere, especially, every time I visit Chennai, when getting off the aircraft, my friend escorts me to his car and we drive in majestic stateliness to our usual haunt, the Madras Gymkhana. There old world waiters in British Raj attire move quietly and effortlessly taking orders with respect and utmost politeness. All’s well, except the smell. From all around comes the stink of the river..!

Share this post

PinIt
    scroll to top