INDIA: Chaliyar River Cleanup, Kozhikode, Kerala

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Thirty-five volunteers paddled on 04 November 2022 to successfully remove three hundred and two kilograms of litter from a five kilometre stretch of Chaliyar River at Kozhikode, under the PROMISE project in India. Coordinated by STENUM Asia with the local support of Jellyfish Watersports and Green Worms Waste Management, the river clean-up activity is expected to contribute to preventing waste from reaching the sea. The Chaliyar River catchment is the largest undammed river in Kerala and flows through the town of Kozhikode to meet the sea. The volunteers were briefed about the PROMISE project aimed at prevention of marine litter in Lakshadweep Sea.

The most exciting feature of the clean-up event was the mode of collecting waste. Kayaks were used to collect the floating waste as well as waste from shorelines. A ‘mother ship’ in the form of a large raft supported the kayaks in their mission. A brief training on safety measures was provided by the expert team of Jellyfish Watersports.  The volunteers collected 302 kg of waste which was segregated into –(a) rigid plastics, (b) multi layered plastics, (c) sanitary waste, (d) glass waste, (e) metal and scrap waste, (f) paper and tetra pack waste, (g) fishing nets and (h) miscellaneous waste (including footwear, clothing, and residual waste). Sanitary waste, glass bottles and plastic constituted the majority of the collection. The recyclable items (181 kg) collected by the volunteers were sent for closed loop recycling.

There was variability in the types of waste found near the banks of the river. Near the banks of the inhabited islands, a huge amount of sanitary waste was found, indicating lack of waste collection and management in the islands. The glass waste collected, particularly glass bottles, may have washed up from further upstream or littered by the tourists and locals. An abundant amount of discarded fishing nets in the river suggests lack of awareness among the fishing community about waste management. Such insights will help the team in subsequent clean-ups and in overall project implementation.