Rivers form the lifeline of our civilisation. At a time when synthetic pollution is affecting both perennial and non-perennial rivers in North Bengal, it becomes essential to launch a clean-up drive in these rivers. Spearheading the campaign to protect rivers is Siliguri’s North Bengal Explorer’s Club that had launched a campaign called “Clean Mahananda” post Durga Puja last year.

The outfit is not only involved in campaigning for cleaning river Mahananda in Siliguri, but also plans to campaign for a host of rivers flowing in the Dooars, Terai, Darjeeling hills, Bhutan and Sikkim hills.

Barisan Chakravorty, vice-president, North Bengal Explorer’s Club said, “There is an acute shortage of drinking water in the Darjeeling hills, Sikkim Himalayas, Nepal Himalayas, Bhutan, the Dooars and Terai from December to April every year. We are requesting the Odlabari, Mall Bazaar and Siliguri Municipality as well as Siliguri-Jalpaiguri Development Authority to launch a clean-up drive for the Mahananda and several other Himalayan rivers of North Bengal.”

He also said that his club would be hosting rallies, street plays and generating mass awareness to clean up the Mahananda and other rivers of North Bengal.

“We intend to take up a study along with the University of North-Bengal on the level of pollution in rivers like Balasan, Jaldhaka and Mechi on the Indo-Nepal border, rivers Teesta, Jayanti, Murti, Juranti, Sankosh on the Bengal-Assam border, river Diana in the vicinity of Totopara in the Dooars and Leesh, Gheesh and Neora near Neora Valley National Park. All are non-perennial rivers barring rivers Teesta, Mahananda and Jaldhaka. Organising picnics on river Teesta has been strictly prohibited since tourists leave no stone unturned to throw plastic and synthetic waste in the river, which causes pollution.”

Moreover, boulders from rivers and streams in the upper reaches of the Himalayas and even waterfalls are being smuggled into Bangladesh in exchange for money.

Chakravorty said, “This has become a growing trend and no steps have been taken by the state government to put an end to this practise.”

The environmental set-up is also planning to undertake high-altitude trekking at Goechala in West Sikkim in October this year.

Chakravorty said, “The trek will last for 12 days with around 22 participants. Soaring at a height of about 16,000 ft above sea level, the Goechala mountain pass provides breathtaking views of Kanchenjunga and a slew of other ice-capped peaks like Kabru Dom, Pandim et al. The trek is for college-goers and will kick off at Yuksom and pass through Bakkim, Dzongri, Thanshing and eventually Goechala.”