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The Adyar River Walk

The Adyar River Walk on 9th June 2018

A group of 60 children from classes VII to XII embarked on the “Adyar River Walk” on Saturday, the 9th of June 2018 at 7am, to create awareness about the condition of the Adyar River. The walk covered four selected stretches of the river (near the source, near the mouth and along its course) to develop their own impression and ponder on their relationship with it. Experienced environment educators from Neerottam and Omega guided the walk by dividing the children into groups and actively engaging with them.

 The selected stop points were Chemberambakam, Anakaputhur, Kotturpuram and Adyar Eco Park.  Students were first taken to Chemberambakam where the Adyar River begins its course. A part of water supply of the metropolis of Chennai is drawn from this lake. The next pit-stop was Anakaputhur where one could see waste being dumped mercilessly into the river. The group then proceeded to Kotturpuram, where it was almost impossible to stay near the river because of the foul smell emanating. This was mostly due to industrial wastes released into the Adyar River.

The final destination was Adyar Poonga, which is an example of determination taking centre stage as a degraded place is restored and re-habilitated. The success of the restoration can be measured by species diversity, density and abundance of faunal elements in an area. In 2007, 65 species of vertebrates was recorded viz., Fish (5 species), Amphibians (3 species), Reptiles (11 species), Birds (33 species) and Mammals (13 species). During the restoration process, the water-bodies have been protected from any external sources of pollution. Also, the site was protected from hunting and vandalism of the habitat of birds and reptiles. This has facilitated the increase in diversity to an encouraging 159 species. As on June 2012, 27 species of Fish, 10 species of Amphibians, 19 species of Reptiles, 90 species of Birds and 13 species of Mammals are recorded in the Adyar Poonga.

There was a reflection session after the 6-hour excursion when the students expressed their insights about the walk. This exercise aided in environmental education by helping the students put to use their observation and problem solving skills. It also acted as a practical session to connect topics learnt through Science and Social Science.

This was the first of several river walks, through which students hope to shed light to the reality of our city’s water bodies.

“What I’ve Learnt” by Haritha B. (Class XII G)

The sprawling city that captures the heart of those who dare behold its magnificent glory, where one is subjected to piercing tranquility amidst chaos.

The city of dreams and wishes fulfilled, of rags and riches that enthrall all alike. The city of hope, and the city of light, the city that to me, came to a standstill that day.

The steady flow of routine bustle and traffic continue to engulf my ears, even as the pungent miasma synchronises with the sights of plastic mounds and poultry to ring out wails in mourning, as I look around in epiphant confusion, ready to blackout at any moment. For what could I possibly do, except close my eyes and feign ignorance, even in the wake of destruction?

The breathtaking sights of the morning sun gleaming over the magnificent Chembarambakkam slowly fade away as we move from one tragic view to another.

Anakaputhur, brought to me, a startling call to the acute reality where irony lies in the fact that we’ve risked destruction of what brings life to the city, in order to keep the city alive under the alias of crude development.

Where irony lies in the fact that in the process of slaying animals to feed our hunger, the river that quenches our thirst has been neglected and dumped with cadavers.

Kotturpuram, where the bleak, less illustrious side of the coin called industrialization lies exposed under the sun overhead, as satire continues to scorn.

Bricks and shattered glass lie strewn aplenty across what used to be a hazy green meadow, as stark hiraeth occupies my mind. I wonder what this bank would’ve looked like, and if, like all other banks, this one too might someday hold things precious and safe.

I wonder if this streamside would ever witness a Juliet meet her Romeo again, or if it would live to see the day they bring their children to play upon these fertile soils.

But like the tragic tale of these two famed lovers, the people and this river here seem severed apart.

YMCA brings with itself, another forlorn sight. What seems to be a cheery colourful inlay in the otherwise dull brown soil turns out to be nefarious plastic remains, eternally embedded as a reminder of our guilt.

Years of misfortune have piled upon this river that once ran mighty across the city, and what remains is, but a shell of its former glory. A shrivelled tragic remnant of a toy misshapen in the hands of a cruel base world.

Yet all these thoughts slowly ebb away in the face of the glossy waters that reflect the late afternoon sun that shines above the Adyar Poonga.

Like Beauty locked away in the heart of the Beasts castle, the alluring waters cascade in a seductive trance, secluded away from the lustful eyes of those beyond the fence that surrounds the park.

The isolated beauty stands nurturing and tall, the meandering stream symbolic of the idyllic grace that envelopes us in a comforting embrace, for what do we have to look up to, if not hope?

And hope it is, that the location instills in the hearts and minds of all those present. Hope, and another sanguine thought about what this river needs.

What the river needs, is another river to course within.

A river that embodies a doting lovers’ devotion; a patriots’ watchful eye that cares for the tricolour; a mother’s’ nurturing clasp around her child’s hands and a teacher’s pride in the endeavours of a beloved pupil.

A river whose waters are infused with our empathy for the drops of sweat that glisten on a farmers forehead,and his tears of joy at the first monsoon showers.

A river that courses through the veins of every man, woman, child and creature that seeks asylum in this spectacular land of opportunities.

A river of hope, sensitivity and courage.

A river whose existence within me is What I’ve Learnt.