Irikkur River, a major tributary of the Valapattanam River in Kannur, has been reduced to a pale shadow of itself. This river had breached its bank during the last flood. But now, the river has shrunk to a small stretch of water on one side. Trees and grass have grown on the dried-up areas of the river basin.
Apart from the damage caused by the two floods of 2018 and 2019, unscientific sand mining and dumping of waste are literally choking the river.
Several people bathe and wash clothes by the river near the Mannoor bridge, which connects Irikkur to Mattannur. Garbage is brought in vehicles and dumped in the river. As this region falls along the border of Irikkur and Padiyoor-Kalliad panchayats, there is no clarity over who should take the initiative to prevent the garbage from being dumped in the area.
From medicines that have crossed the expiry date to waste from barber shops are dumped in the water body. Apart from these, leftovers from slaughter houses also find their way into the river. Plastic waste can be seen dangling even from tree branches along the river.
Though there are demands for setting up CCTV cameras in the area, none are reportedly taking the initiative.
Sand mining is also rampant. Migrant workers are seen actively filling sand in gunny bags, which are taken away in vehicles during the night. Sand is dug out from the dried-up stretch of the river basin. Even the small stones are filtered out and only good quality sand is taken.
All this is done on the river basin and along the river bank, raising questions of why no official action is carried out to stop the illegal activity.
Bank erosion is one of the major problems faced by the Irikkur River. During the last two floods, the river banks had collapsed. The sand mining would further cause damage to the river bank. Plus, the pits on the river basins can lead to accidents.
The river that was
Elders have vivid memories of the pure and abundant Irikkur River. It was through this river that logs from the high-range areas were brought to the wooden mills at Valapattnam during the earlier decades.
Seventy-year-old Abdu Salam had also made a living like that during his younger days.
" About 80 per cent of the people in this region made an earning like this. When one log of wood was taken from Irikkur to Valapattnam, you would be paid one rupee. On an average you would make Rs 18 in a day.
"Even though the water level used to dip during the summer, it was never reduced to such a state. Those days are all gone," he lamented.